By TIM TUTOR
SPRINGVILLE — After three-straight years of defeat at the hands of county rival South Pontotoc High, the Warriors of Pontotoc High left Cougar Field Friday night with a 35-7 win.
“We needed to win a ballgame,” said first-year Warrior head coach Charlie Dampeer. “That’s bigger than the rivalry.
“We needed to win a ballgame to get a little confidence going with this bunch, and start believing we can play with people to give ourselves a chance every Friday night.”
Pontotoc’s air game was more than anyone expected it to be, including Coach Dampeer.
“We threw the ball well. We really did,” Dampeer said. “We actually threw it a little better than I thought we would, and I was glad to see that.”
Senior quarterback Andrew Yeoman connected on 19 of 26 passing attempts for 228 yards and three touchdowns in the opening night win.
“I was very pleased with how he threw the ball and handled the offense tonight,” Dampeer said.
The Pontotoc receivers and defensive secondary kept South on their toes all night long.
“They did,” first-year Cougar head coach Jack Clark replied. “They were a little faster than we were on defense, and they threw the ball exceptionally well. When we gave them a spot to hit … they hit it.
“They threw it a whole lot better than we had expected. Yeoman played a great game.
“Elzie played a great game, too, along with the Robbins kid,” Clark added. “They threw and caught the football a lot better than the Pontotoc teams I’ve seen in the past.”
Yeoman was a perfect 6 of 6 in the first quarter, including four tosses to senior wide receiver James Elzie for 65 yards. Elzie went on to pull in 11 receptions for 139 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.
Senior wide receiver Will Robbins caught five passes for 42 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown grab in the third quarter.
Senior Jarvis Bolton got in on the action from his wide receiver slot, also, scoring on a 34-yard catch and run in the second quarter.
The aggressive play of the PHS defensive secondary may have been the story of the game.
Cougar senior quarterback David Bowen had a disappointing night going four of 15 for only 29 yards in the passing department.
“We played exceptionally well in the secondary,” Dampeer said, noting the three interceptions made in the second, third and fourth periods. “But we missed a couple of picks that we should have had. We’ve got to make those catches down the road.
“Defensively, we played very well.
“We didn’t run the ball as well as we wanted to, but that was because they wouldn’t let us. It was not because we didn’t want to … we tried to.
“They’re pretty good in the middle, and they took that part of our game away.”
South Pontotoc put the defensive pressure on by bringing in their linebackers.
“It’s a pretty tough scheme, and it was hard to get ahold of them at the start, but we got a little better as the game went on. We started mixing the pass and run a little better.”
Two of Pontotoc’s five touchdowns came on the ground.
After a one-yard quarterback sneak by Yeoman in the first quarter, senior running back Chris Ware crossed the goalline on a 19-yard scamper in the fourth to seal the 35-7 win.
He also caught a couple of passes in the second half for 20 yards.
Senior placekicker Caryl Vogel, out of the hold of Will Robbins, went five for five in point after touchdown attempts.
“They beat us on both sides of the ball, offense and defense. We did not play very well.” Coach Clark said, noting his team lost their offensive right guard and tackle in the first quarter.
“That hurt us right off the bat when they went down,” Clark explained. “That was our strong offensive side. The guys stepped in and did a better job in the second half, but could never recover from it.
“Pontotoc put a lot into this game. They expected to win tonight and they did. For us to go out there and play the way that we did … it brought us back down to reality really quick.”
Hard running senior Stephen “Detroit” Robinson’s performance Friday night, that included a two-yard touchdown run that put South on the scoreboard to start the third quarter, drew praise from Coach Clark.
“He ran exceptionally hard, and he always does. Detroit made the plays early.
“He probably needs to touch it a lot more … going to have to touch it a lot more in order for us to get better.”
Robinson’s run was setup by senior Willie Bailey’s second-half kickoff return to the Pontotoc 2-yard line. Senior Adam Roye’s point after made it a 21-7 affair.