BOONEVILLE – After 50 years of roaming a football sideline as a coach, is there anything that can still make Jim Drewry shake his head?
The veteran coach was marveling Friday after his Booneville Blue Devils turned the football over six times, and still claimed a 14-6 victory over the rival Baldwyn Bearcats.
“Someone just told me we had six turnovers,” said Drewry, Mississippi’s all-time winningest coach. “How can you make six turnovers and still win?”
For the Blue Devils (2-0), it was more a matter of survival than execution. No well run plays here, more grit and guts.
On its first possession of the game, Booneville tried to flash some of the offensive execution that put 41 points on the scoreboard in the Devils season opener. Behind the running of Bo Brown and Jeiron Jones, Booneville marched from its own 20-yard line to the Baldwyn 20 in 10 plays.
But on the 11th snap, Baldwyn’s Devin Lindsey stepped in front of a pass, then raced 86 yards for the touchdown and a 6-0 lead in the season opener for the 2008 Class 2A State Champions.
It was only short-lived joy for the Bearcats.
On the ensuing kickoff, Brendon Pannell darted down the right sideline, then cut all the way across to the left sideline, completing an 85-yard return for the score and a 7-6 lead for the Blue Devils.
“Baldwyn has beaten us the last three years to open the season, so it’s been a long time since we’ve been 2-0,” Drewry said. “The tension was so high tonight, both teams were going to make mistakes.
“Baldwyn will have a good football team before the year is over.”
After that scoring outburst, the game was almost over before another point was tallied.
The contest settled somewhat into a defensive struggle, with perhaps the best chance for a score coming in the second period when Booneville drove 44 yards in 10 plays. But the Devils fumbled the ball at the Baldwyn 2-yard line, and the Bearcats had survived that scare.
Finally in the fourth period, Booneville was able to gain a bit of breathing room after a bouncing punt glanced off a Bearcat and into the arms of Robert Burress with 2 minutes, 49 seconds to play. Needing only nine yards for the TD, Booneville took its time, scoring on a fourth down 1-yard dive by Brown with 1:01 remaining.
“The game came down to two special team mistakes,” said Baldwyn’s Michael Gray, a long-time Bearcat assistant in his first year as head coach. “We just had so many kids that it was their first time out there.”
David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal