OXFORD – After a slow start in last Saturday’s season-opening jamboree, the Blue Devils narrowly earned a 14-13 win over the larger 4A Corinth Warriors. Senior quarterback Jonathan Kent went eight for 14 with 119 passing yards and a touchdown pass to clinch the win for the Blue Devils.
“We started out a little slow, but as the game progressed our nerves went away and everybody started playing better,” Kent said after the contest.
Also as the players’ nerves subsided, the noise from the spectators was over shadowed by the “crack” “bam” and “booms” coming from the field by the wrecking crew’s big hitters, including #7 Kirkland Horton and #34 Dee McNeal, to mention a couple of the many standouts on the defensive side of the ball.
The contest was the first real test for this year’s starters after 16 seniors rotated off last year’s team.
“The effort was good, but obviously we have got to do a better job executing,” head coach Brad Embry reported in the first assessment of the year. “We wanted to play fast, physical and not beat ourselves up worrying about mistakes, and we got the “W” and that’s all that counts.”
The Blue Devils started going three and out on their first possession. Corinth’s first drive wasn’t any better, with a three and out of their own. The Blue Devils showed better results in their third possession, putting together a small drive before they were forced to punt.
When it was the Warrior’s turn, they almost found the end zone, but fortunately missed a field goal. The next drive for the Blue Devils looked promising until Kent let one sail a little too far, and the Warriors intercepted it on their own 20 yard line, setting up a 60-yard touchdown drive for the Warriors.
The Blue Devils answered with a pass from Kent to #26 Mark Gooch to move the chains. A few plays later, #67 Brandon Bounds rushed in from nine yards out to put the Blue Devils on the scoreboard. Junior kicker Alex Robles connected on the extra point which made it 7-7.
With the momentum going their way, the Blue Devil wrecking defense forced another three and out for the Warriors. On the Blue Devils next possession, the fans could see first-hand the players’ nerves were at ease after Kent completed a huge pass to #10 L.J. Hawkins for a 30-yard conversion. A few plays later, Kent connected with Hawkins again for the touchdown that put Water Valley up 14-7 in what would be the Blue Devils’ final score of the night with Robles’ second extra point proving to be the deciding factor in the game.
On Water Valley’s next possession, the Warriors forced a punt with three minutes left on the clock. The Warriors were running a no huddle offense most of the game, and the pace seemed to have caught up with the Blue Devil defense as the Warriors scored with 45 seconds left in the two-quarter contest. With the game on the line, the Warriors tried a two-point conversion and the wrecking crew defense stuffed their running back, bringing the contest to a close 14-13.
The contest marked the third time the Blue Devils have face Corinth, with the first game held in 1999. The win was the first for Water Valley.
Regular season play gets underway Friday night when New Albany comes to town. The Blue Devils are looking to extend their four-game season opener win streak with a big win. Last year the team traveled to New Albany and picked up a big 38-13 victory that helped paved the way to a 11-2 season that ended with a loss Louisville Wildcats in the second round of the playoffs. The Wildcats went on to win the Division 3 state championship with a perfect season.