Kemper's Macuntae Turner (13) looks for open field to pick up some yards for the Wildcats.
Kemper's Macuntae Turner (13) looks for open field to pick up some yards for the Wildcats.
By Steve Swogetinsky

Kemper Messenger

The Kemper County Wildcats proved they could hang with rival Philadelphia as they dropped a 16-8 decision to the Tornadoes Friday night in prep football action.

“We kept finding ways to give it away,” KCHS coach Joshua Pulphus said. “First, our guys played hard. We have been teaching them about how they had to respond to adversity, and they responded well.

“We got down in the first quarter. Then our offense started putting drives together. We had mental lapses in the red zone. But it was a very physical game.”

Statistically, the Wildcats put up some big numbers, both on offense and in penalties. The Wildcats racked up 317 total yards. Kemper County completed 14-of-27 passing attempts for 246 yards while rushing for 71 markers on 24 carries. Kemper County was also penalized 17 times for 155 yards.

Philadelphia had 188 yards rushing and 132 yards passing for 320 total yards. The Tornadoes were penalized 15 times for 119 yards.

The Tornadoes took the opening kickoff and drove down to the Kemper County 18-yard line before running out of downs. Kemper County fumbled the ball away on its first offensive play.

On the next play, Stetson Moore caught a 19-yard TD pass from Lideatrick Griffin. Cortney Smith ran the two point conversion in and the Tornadoes led 8-0 with 8:50 left in the first quarter.

Kemper County took the kickoff and ran 10 plays before having to punt. On first down, Trey Crockett passed to Griffin for a 43-yard touchdown pass. Smith ran in the two point conversion and the Tornadoes led 16-0 with 5:49 left in the first quarter.

Philadelphia would not score again in this game. The Wildcats got on the scoreboard in the third quarter when sophomore quarterback De’ontre Rush passed to Quanderius Bohannon for an 85-yard touchdown reception. The two point conversion was successful and the Wildcats were within eight points of the Tornadoes with 5:55 left in the third quarter.

Both teams would put together drives as the game continued but neither scored again as the defenses dug in.

Rush accounted for all of the Wildcats’ passing yards and rushed five times for 24 yards, giving him 270 total yards. Rondarius Gowdy rushed eight times for 41 yards. Macuntae Turner had five catches for 72 yards while Bohannon caught four passes for 93 yards.

Tra’Kalab Welch had 13 tackles; Trajan Tanksley had 11; and, Senious Williams had nine. The Wildcats had seven sacks, led by Recadre Moore and Tanksley with two each.

Several starters have had to go both ways in the early part of the season, which accounts for signs of weariness in the second half of the early games. Coach Pulphus said that in the Philadelphia game, he was able to get some of his younger guys in to give starters a break.

“More of our younger players are getting ready to play more,” Pulphus said. “Some of them saw their first action in the Philadelphia game. For the most part, they held their own.”

The Wildcats are still looking for their first victory as they drop to 0-4. Kemper County will host West Lauderdale on Friday. The game will be played at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba.

“West Lauderdale is a big, physical team that likes to put together long drives and run down the clock,” Pulphus said. “They are 1-3 but they could easily have won some of those games if a call had gone a different way. We have to keep the ball away from them and eliminate our mistakes.”