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Simpson Defeats East Rankin
By: Christian Carrico
The Simpson Academy Cougars hosted their second AAAA opponent in as many weeks when the East Rankin Patriots paid a visit to Mendenhall. Like the first game, the opponent went home with a loss, but this time the game was much closer. To close for comfort actually as the Cougars won by a score of 25-20.
Initially, the game appeared to be on the verge of being a blowout as the Cougars were able to march the ball up and down the field with the Patriots offering little resistance. However, one play, late in the second quarter, changed everything. A total of 102 plays took place in the ballgame, but the game changed on one particular play, and everyone in attendance knew it.
Both teams fumbled the ball on their opening possession. Simpson fumbled first, but no harm no foul. The ERA fumble was followed by the first points of the ballgame.
Triston Coward went on a 44 yard romp to provide the opening scoring of the ballgame. The extra point attempt was no good, with special team play continuing to be an issue for the Cougars.
The Simpson defense was relentless all night long. Time after time they were able to penetrate the backfield and apply pressure on the quarterback. They were not always successful in bringing the quarterback down, but they forced him to rush throws and they were able to limit yardage gained on the ground.
The Cougars scored their second touchdown of the game when Matthew Burney connected with Aaron Burney on an 18 yard touchdown completion. The Cougars did not complete a pass in the first game, but managed to complete 6 of their 8 passes (75%) and two touchdowns in this game. Another missed extra point left the Cougars with a 13 point lead.
The Cougars found the end zone one more time in the first half. With Matthew Burney scoring from the 4 yard line. On the stat sheet, it was a 4 yard touchdown run, but actually Matthew traveled about 50 yards as he had to elude an all-out ERA rush, that pushed him back to the 25 yard line before he turned and headed toward the end zone for the score. Scott Johnson converted on the extra point attempt and the Cougars were sitting comfortably on a 20 point lead.
Perhaps they became too comfortable because they next play changed the make-up of the game. Johnson sent his kickoff sailing to the ERA 11 yard line. Seconds later, after traveling 89 yards, the ERA return man was celebrating with his teammates in the end zone while the Cougars were wondering what had just happened.
In just seconds, ERA had reduced the lead to 13 points, but appeared to catch their second breath with the successful return. The Cougars, looking a little deflated, headed for the locker room as halftime commenced.
The Cougars came out firing again in the second half. In less than 4 minutes, the Cougars managed to score their 4th touchdown of the night. This time Matthew Burney connected with the third member of the Burney Trifecta, Kyle Burney, for a 15 yard touchdown. Thanks to a penalty on ERA, the Cougars had two chances for the extra point but were unsuccessful on both.
The Cougars had one more opportunity to score late in the third quarter, but Johnson’s 41 yard field goal was just wide.
Throughout the remainder of the third and fourth quarters, the ERA defense pinned their ears back and rushed the backfield on almost every play. Time and time again, the Simpson backfield was forced to improvise when multiple ERA defenders penetrated the backfield.
Meanwhile, the ERA quarterback and his primary receiver went on a roll. On multiple occasions, the two connected, moving the ball down the field. The Patriots were able to convert on two of their three 4th down attempts.
With 8:29 left to go in the ballgame, facing 4th and 10, the ERA offense scored their first points of the ball game when on a 25 yard pass play. After the successful extra point, the Cougars led by a score of 25-14.
Four plays later, the Cougars had their second turnover of the ballgame, when Burney’s pass was intercepted at their own 30 yard line. Triston Cowan made the stop on the first play after the Patriots gained 1 yard. Nicholas Broadhead forced the incompletion on the next two plays. Facing another 4th down, Cullen Shows made the stop after the Patriots gained 8 of the 9 yards needed.
The Cougars lost yardage on their next offensive series. Matthew Burney was forced to punt and had his best one of the year as the ball sailed 45 yards down field.
The Patriots promptly marched the ball down the field, scoring on a 38 yard pass with just 1:22 left in the ballgame.
With the lead now 25-20, the Patriots decided to attempt the two point conversion. The Cougar defense would not allow it and the score remained the same.
The Patriots had one last chance left and they lined up for the onside kick. The Cougars’ Dylan Hallman fielded the kick cleanly and dropped to the ground. Out of timeouts, the Patriots could only watch as the seconds ticked off the score board. The Cougars escaped with the 25-20 victory.
Matthew Burney completed 6 passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns, in addition to rushing for 49 yards and another touchdown. Kyle Burney again led the Cougars with 99 yards on the ground and 28 receiving yards. Triston Cowan contributed 44 yards on the ground and led the receivers with 52 yards on 2 catches.
Cowan also led the defensive charge accumulating 10 tackles, 8 of which were solo. Riley Runnels added 7.5 tackles and Will White was credited with 4.5 tackles, a sack and 4 tackles for a loss. Ben Adcox was also credited with one sack.
The Cougars do not receive a break during their week of Homecoming festivities. The Lamar School Raiders will be visiting Mendenhall, while SCA invites Alumni from years past back to campus. The Lamar School was ranked 4th in AAAA in the most recent Clarion Ledger rankings. The Cougars were ranked 4th in AAA.
The Raiders have outscored their first two opponents by a combined score of 91-14. As a former district rival to the Cougars, the Raiders will come to town hoping to play the role of spoiler.
The homecoming festivities will begin at 6:00 with the parade. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 pm, with the homecoming court presentation at half time.