SHANNON – Chad Cook got exactly what he wanted.
Nearly every day at practice, Shannon’s head coach urges his Red Raiders to play “Shannon defense.” According to Cook, that means 11 players flying to the ball and delivering big hits once they get there.
Friday night, they listened.
Shannon’s defense forced three turnovers, recorded five sacks and scored a touchdown of its own in a 27-0 domination of visiting Cleveland, the Red Raiders’ first shutout of the year.
“I was really pleased with the way the defense stepped up tonight,” Cook said after watching his team improve to 5-0 on the season. “I thought (middle linebacker Jerome Owens) really took charge and led us tonight. He did a good job of getting in there and leading by example, and of course the rest of the defense played extremely well.”
Of course, the defense’s job was made easier thanks to senior tailback Keon McGaughy, who topped the 100-yard plateau for the third time in five games with a 15-carry, 140-yard showing. McGaughy had a pair of long TD runs, the first a 39-yard scamper that broke a scoreless tie midway through the second quarter. McGaughy tacked on a two-point conversion run to give Shannon an 8-0 halftime lead.
After the break, Shannon’s defense turned up the pressure, limiting Cleveland to just 41 second half yards. Junior noseguard Devonte Westbrook had a quarterback sack, a forced fumble, and a punt block in the second half for the Raiders.
McGaughy continued to churn out yardage, adding a 62-yard TD run midway through the third quarter. After a failed conversion, Shannon’s lead stood at 14-0.
“Our offensive line gave us a crease, and (McGaughy) just made a play,” Cook said. “That’s a good team over there and I was proud of the way we took control in the second half.”
Shannon’s defense got in on the scoring act early in the fourth, as senior cornerback Chris Davis intercepted a pass from Cleveland QB James Brown and sprinted 35 yards for a score.
“The line did a good job of holding strong up front and they rushed his pass a little,” Davis said. “I knew they had to throw and when I saw it coming my way, I was thinking touchdown.”
McGaughy and Davis combined for Shannon’s final score, as Davis caught and 12-yard pass from QB Legilbert Bogan and pitched it to McGaughy, who rambled the final 16 yards for a score. McGaughy added the PAT to give Shannon the 27-0 win.
“It wasn’t pretty, but we battled and battled to get the job done,” Cook said. “We haven’t been able to practice much because of the weather lately, but once we got into the flow of the game, I was happy with the way we played.”
After cruising through non-district play unscathed, Shannon will open Division 1-4A play Friday night at Tishomingo County.
Brandon Walker/NEMS Daily Journal