By Dale McKee / Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
Northeast Lauderdale outscored Northeast Jones 27-24 in the opening half, but the tables were turned in the second half as Northeast Jones outscored NE Lauderdale 24-7 to claim a 48-34 Region 5-4A win.
The Tigers have now put together six straight wins to move to 7-2 overall and, more importantly, are now 3-0 in region play, assuring themselves of a playoff spot. The Tigers will travel to Quitman (3-0, 8-1) next week. The Trojans fell to 1-2 in region play and 4-5 overall and will entertain Laurel (2-1, 4-4) next week with a playoff spot on the line.
The Trojans started fast as Troy Neely intercepted a tipped pass and ran 70 yards for the score to give NE Lauderdale the early lead at 6-0. NE Jones took the Trojans’ kickoff and moved from their 42-yard line to the NEL 20-yard line. The drive stalled, and Cole Byrd drilled a 37-yard field goal, cutting the margin to 6-3 with 5:23 to play in the first period. Quarterback Josh Everett moved the visitors 80 yards in seven plays and scored on a six-yard run lifting the Trojans lead to 12-3 with 4:19 left in the opening period.
NEJ moved 75 yards in eight plays to score on a James Ayers to Cameron Breland pass of six yards with 19 seconds left in the first period. Byrd’s kick conversion moved NEJ within 12-10.
NEL came out in the second period and moved 80 yards in four plays as Everett hit Ladale Cockrell on a 75-yard pass play. Kaytee Nelson kicked the conversion, and NEL led 19-10 with 11:08 to play in the half. NEJ responded with a five-play, 59-yard scoring drive as Ayers hit TyShaun McCurtis on a 26-yard pass play with 9:09 left in the half, cutting the Trojans lead to 19-17.
Everett ran 80 yards on the second play after the kickoff as NEL led 27-17 with 8:06 to play before intermission. Phillip Everett ran the conversion. NEJ pulled within 27-24 as Ayers hit Breland on a 33-yard scoring strike with 4:25 to play in the half.
The teams each turned the ball in the third period, and the only score came on a Narron McCann run of three yards with 1:57 to play in the period, giving NEJ their first lead of the night at 31-27.
The Tigers moved out to a 38-27 lead as they moved 50 yards in seven plays to score on an Ayers run of six yards. Byrd’s kick made it 38-27.
Ayers scored on a 15-yard run after Justin Phillips recovered a NEL fumble at the 15, giving the Tigers a 45-27 lead. The Trojans scored on a 67-yard run from Stevie Sanders with 7:38 to play in the game. Nelson kicked her second conversion, and the Trojans trailed 45-34.
Byrd kicked a 44-yard field goal with 4:25 to play as NEJ led 48-34. The Trojans were stopped on the one yard line in the final minute of the game.
Northeast Lauderdale rushed for 464 yards as Josh Everett had 200 yards on 16 carries while Phillip Everett had 129 yards on 20 carries, whil Sanders had 122 yards on 6 carries. NEL passed for 82 yards as they compiled 546 yards of offense. The Trojans have 16 penalties for 140 yards compared to two for 20 yards for the home team. NEJ passed for 150 yards and ran for 232 yards.