FULTON – They may be first cousins, but the two running backs didn’t speak to each other this past week.
The reason? They were busy with their respective teams preparing for a game that would decide the Division 1-4A title.
Shannon’s Keon McGaughy and Itawamba AHS’ Deshawn McGaughy found themselves on opposite sides of Itawamba AHS’ Indian Field on Saturday afternoon.
By 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Deshawn, however, had earned the right to talk about Saturday’s game. His team won 21-12 and finished the regular season at a perfect 10-0 (5-0 Division 1-4A) thanks in large part to his 15 carries for 164 yards and a touchdown against Shannon on Saturday. He also had a 17-yard reception on the same drive he scored his touchdown on.
“It was a good feeling to just play them again because they beat us last year,” said a happy Deshawn outside his team’s locker room. “I guess they thought they were going to do it again, but there was none of that.”
Deshawn said his cousin, Shannon’s star running back, was lively during the pregame warmups, talking, singing and dancing on the field.
“He was talking a whole lot of stuff,” the IAHS running back said. “But he wasn’t talking about anything after the game.”
Even though his team lost, the Shannon running back still had something to be proud of. Keon had 20 rushes for 118 yards and a touchdown, which was set up by his 44-yard pass to Legilbert Bogan out of a formation that could be deemed the “Wild Raider.”
It should not go unnoted that Keon’s leg began to cramp up early in the fourth quarter. Leg cramps are nothing new to the Shannon player, as he suffered them late in the third quarter of his team’s Aug. 28 game against Memphis East. Still, Shannon’s McGaughy was able to come back into that game and rush for 100 more yards.
Saturday was a different story, though, as his team found itself down by 9 with 4:47 to go in the game.
“We made a couple of mistakes on defense and offense,” Keon said after the game, “but we’ll come back and start to game plan and get ready for next week.”
By now everybody has the memo: You stop Shannon running back Keon McGaughy, you have a good chance of beating the Red Raiders.
“It all starts and stops with him for them,” said Itawamba AHS head coach Jamie Mitchell. “Not to say that he’s a one-man show by any means, but you’re not going to stop him. …
“They are just going to keep giving it to him and he’s going to get his points.”
Perhaps the same could be said for his cousin in Fulton, who now has two straight big fourth-quarter performances to lead his team to victories over Pontotoc and Shannon in consecutive weeks to finish the regular season.
“They both got the same blood,” said Shannon head coach Chad Cook, “and when the game’s on the line they both play hard.
“The two of them are great competitors. They hate to lose.”
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal