SHANNON – Everybody knows the secret to beating Shannon.
Stop all-everything tailback Keon McGaughy and you’ve got the Raiders beat, right?
Shannon’s other senior leaders responded beautifully to adversity Friday night, as QB Legilbert Bogan tossed a pair of third-quarter TDs to wideout Chris Davis, and the Red Raiders’ defense thrived in a playoff-like atmosphere to claim an emotionally-charged 25-13 win over Pontotoc in a battle of unbeatens.
“Just a total team effort,” Shannon head coach Chad Cook said. “I can’t say enough about every player on this team. Pontotoc came in here and gave us everything they had, but our guys just kept making plays.”
McGaughy got his, too, rushing for 221 yards and a score to help the Red Raiders pass their toughest test since early in the season, but it wasn’t easy.
After dominating the majority of the first half, the Red Raiders gave up what seemed to be the ultimate game-changer when Pontotoc’s Ryan Thompson returned a blocked field goal 97-yards for a score on the final play of the second quarter.
Pontotoc left the field with a 7-6 lead and momentum, while Shannon left. ... with momentum?
“That play really gave us a shot in the arm,” Shannon head coach Chad Cook. “We were slugging it out and controlling the ball, then all of a sudden they shocked us. It really brought us together and gave us focus for the second half.”
Did it ever.
Trailing 7-6, Shannon outscored Pontotoc 18-0 in the third quarter to seize control.
Bogan hooked up with Davis for scores from 48 and 20 yards, and sophomore tailback Bodarius Taylor added a 12-yard score to help Shannon build a 25-7 lead.
“They just keep coming at you with athlete after athlete,” said Pontotoc head coach Charlie Dampeer, who watched his team fall to 7-1 overall and 2-1 in Division 1-4A. “People just don’t realize how fast they are on defense. They make you try to throw the ball, and they’re hard to beat.”
McGaughy opened the scoring early, capping Shannon’s first possession with a 1-yard scoring plunge to give the Raiders a 6-0 lead. That drive was set up by an interception by Davis, who was all over the field in helping Shannon limit Pontotoc to just 28 total yards in the first half.
“It was tough, I gotta give Pontotoc credit,” Davis said, “but we stuck together out there. It was just 11 brothers making plays for each other.”
Warriors strike late
Pontotoc’s offense cashed in the game’s final score with four minutes, 35 seconds to go when QB Canden Dallas found Patrick Crayton for a 20-yard scoring strike.
“I see why Pontotoc was 7-0, because they are a very good football team,” Cook said. “They have a terrific head coach, and they really came after us tonight.”
With the win, Shannon moves to 8-0 and takes a leg up in the 1-4A playoff race, setting up a potential season-ending clash of unbeatens with Itawamba, which also ran its record to 8-0 with a 28-7 win over Tishomingo County.
Shannon visits New Albany next, while Pontotoc will return home to host IAHS.
Warriors, foiled on ground, try airing it out
BY JOHN WILBERT
SHANNON – Pontotoc High head football coach Charlie Dampeer said his team was left with no choice but to throw the ball on almost every play against Shannon’s physical and quick defense.
“We couldn’t run the football at all against them,” Dampeer said after Friday night’s game, “for two reasons: We just don’t have that brute back that does that kind of stuff – we’re more finesse; and it is hard to run in this stuff (muddy conditions) with the kind of backs we have.”
So with that being said, the Warriors threw the ball 36 times, completing just 12 of those passes for 94 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Pontotoc only ran the ball 10 times in the entire game.
“We tried to throw because they were loaded up on us (on the line of scrimmage), and we couldn’t run it,” said Pontotoc quarterback Canden Dallas, who threw all but one of those passes, including a 20-yard touchdown pass to Randall Crayton in the fourth quarter. “So we had to do something; we just had to pass.
“They just played man coverage and they beat us pretty much.”
Dampeer said Shannon played them in “zero coverage” on defense, which meant that Shannon’s defensive secondary had all of Pontotoc’s receivers locked down in one-on-one coverage so that Shannon’s linebackers and defensive line could stay at home more and concentrate on stopping the run – if Pontotoc was going to run – or rush the passer.
“You count the box,” he explained. “If they got this many in the box you gotta throw it; if they got this many covered you gotta run it.
“They played zero coverage on us all night – they just played our guys one-on-one. So we just didn’t have any choice – we had to throw the football.
“If they can play zero coverage on you and just lock your guys down and you can’t throw the football, then you’re in trouble because they got more defenders than blockers.”
Said Shannon head coach Chad Cook, “We got good pressure up front. Guys like Donovan Rogers and Jimmy Owens played their tails off, and the defensive line never stopped working.
“I thought (Tevin) Spurgon and (Jeremy) Long were terrific in the secondary. Our defensive backs did a good job all night, and that’s saying something against a team that can throw it like Pontotoc.”