In a battle of big cats, the Charleston High School Tigers out-clawed the J.Z. George High School Jaguars 56-12 in a second-round playoff at CHS Friday night, Nov. 12.
Next up for the 8-3 Tigers is a Friday road trip to northeast Mississippi to face the 10-2 Baldwyn High School Bearcats. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Baldwyn advanced to the third round by topping Choctaw County 30-14 last week.
Charleston head coach LaDon Taylor said the Bearcats are “a very good team” with quite a few good athletes “in those main places that you need to be successful.”
Baldwyn’s top offensive weapons include quarterback Jamaury Marshall, who has completed 54% of his passes for 1,726 yards and 16 touchdowns; receiver Hastin Nelson, who has 34 receptions for 786 yards and nine touchdowns; and running back Jojo Christian, who has 79 carries for 1,017 yards — a 12.9-yard average — and 15 TDs.
“There’s a lot that you have to defend,” Taylor said. “It’s going to be a lot more challenging, but that’s what we expect in the third round of the playoffs.”
On the defensive side, Baldwyn is led by lineman Rodney Stewart, who has recorded 90 tackles — 38 of them for a loss — and 15 sacks this season.
Some of the Tigers' key offensive leaders are quarterback Rod O'Bannon, who has completed 44% of his passes for 526 yards and run the ball 60 times for 260 yards; running back Corterrius Johnson, who has 67 carries for 515 yards; Quinterrius Suggs, with 63 carries for 403 yards; Mook Prince, with 52 rushes for 365 yards; receiver Clay Taylor, with 12 grabs for 286 yards; and receiver Terrence Marco, who has made 12 catches for 162 yards.
Defensively, Mac Kimble leads the Tigers with 48 tackles (34 solos and 14 assists); Korvel Murry has 30 (24 solos and six assists); and Jamichael Batteast also has 30 (23 solos and seven assists).
A win Friday at Baldwyn would punch Charleston’s ticket to the Class 2A North State championship game to face the victor of this week’s 8-2 Leflore County at 9-3 East Webster tilt. Charleston would host the north half title game no matter the opponent.
Going into Friday's game, Taylor said he was not looking that far ahead.
“All I know is Baldwyn Bearcats this week,” he said. “Next week means nothing unless we take care of business on Friday.”
The Tigers hope to have the services of starting quarterback Rod O’Bannon, who suffered a sprained ankle in the first quarter last week.
“We’re hoping,” Taylor said. “He’s been getting treatments and will be getting more late this week. He won’t be 100% regardless, but maybe he can get to 80%.”
O’Bannon has been responsible for 81% of the Tigers’ passing attempts and 83% of their completions, throwing for 526 yards this season. He also is the team’s third-leading rusher, with 60 carries for 260 yards.
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Of last week’s game, which saw the Tigers take a 22-0 first-quarter lead over George before coasting into the half leading 42-6, Taylor said his guys “played really well. We were hitting on all cylinders.”
George received the opening kickoff but sputtered, opting to gamble with a fake punt on fourth-and-8. After the unsuccessful attempt, the Tigers took over at the Jaguars 25, and seven plays later O’Bannon scored on a 3-yard run, then carried for the two-point conversion to give Charleston an 8-0 lead with 7:47 in the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Jaguars’ return man fumbled the ball and Charleston kicker Terrence Marco recovered it at the George 35. O’Bannon passed to Marco for a 24-yard touchdown and Markevious Prince ran in the conversion for a 16-0 lead at 5:16. It was on the conversion try that O’Bannon was injured.
After a defensive stand, the Tigers forced the Jags to punt from just outside the red zone, allowing CHS to start the next drive at the George 45. Prince set up the touchdown on a 37-yard burst to the visitors’ 5, and Corterrius Johnson finished it with a 3-yard TD carry moments later. The conversion try failed, but the Tigers led 22-0 at 2:18.
Another defensive show forced a poor George punt from the red zone and gave CHS starting field position at the Jags’ 37. Quinterrius Suggs picked up 14 yards on first down, and Prince applied the exclamation point with a 15-yard scoring run for a 28-0 lead with 11:45 in the second.
A seven-play, 79-yard drive led to Charleston’s second score of the second quarter. A highlight was Suggs’ 30-yard run. Johnson scored on a 20-yard carry, and Suggs ran in the two-point play for a 36-0 lead with 7:32 left in the half.
The Tigers’ next score was set up by a C.J. Edwards interception. Prince had runs of 11 and 14 yards before taking the pigskin into the end zone from 19 yards out. CHS led 42-0 at the 3:11 mark.
Two Charleston penalties totaling 30 yards aided George’s ensuing four-play, 71-yard drive that led to a 19-yard touchdown run at 1:38, making the score 42-6 as the teams broke for intermission.
The Tigers rolled out a mostly junior varsity lineup in the third quarter, and the Jags began marching before Omar Wilson intercepted a pass at the Tigers’ 15. Three plays later, facing fourth-and-13 at the 12, George blocked a Charleston punt, recovering at the 10. Two snaps later, the Jags scored on a misdirection pass play for 10 yards, making the score 42-12 at 3:07.
Freshman Marcus Flowers scored on a 16-yard run at 8:32 in the fourth period to cap a seven-play, 62-yard drive. The conversion failed.
Defensive lineman Lajavion Corner set up the final score of the night after ripping the football from the hands of a George offensive player and returning it to the 5, from where Edwards quickly ran into the end zone on the next play. Edwards also carried for the two-pointer.
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Statistically, O’Bannon completed one of his two passes early in the game for the 24-yard TD to Marco.
Three other CHS passers had one incompletion apiece.
Prince led the Charleston ground game with 10 carries for 132 yards, a 13.2-yard average. Suggs followed up with eight totes for 66 yards, Flowers had nine for 60, Johnson six for 48, Timothy Kirk four for 17 and Quentin Carter rushed four times for 16 yards.
In all, 11 Tigers players ran the football, amassing a total of 342 yards on the ground.
Defensively, Suggs, Mac Kimble and Brandon Henderson all had three individual tackles and one assist. Jamichael Batteast added three solo stops.