By Rocky Higginbotham

Kemper County Messenger

Nanih Waiya head coach Ryan Keeton expected a dogfight at tradition-rich Vardaman last week, and that’s exactly what his team got.

In just the second contest this season in which Nanih Waiya found itself in a contested game going into the fourth quarter, the Warriors rolled up 413 rushing yards in a 34-14 victory.

It was the 31st straight division win for Nanih Waiya, which improved to 9-0 overall and 6-0 in Region 3-1A. Vardaman, which had won three in a row, fell to 5-3 and 3-2.

“We tried to get our guys to understand beforehand it was going to be a tough place to play,” Keeton said. “Their coach has done a great job of getting them headed back in the right direction.”

A couple of lost fumbles halted Warrior drives, and Nanih Waiya led just 13-7 at halftime.

But the two-back tandem of Chris Smith and Taemaus Glass – as well as senior quarterback Bryce Stanton – could not be slowed down by the Vardaman defense in the second half.

Smith erupted for 186 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries, while Glass ran 18 times for 131 yards and Stanton ran 14 times for 82 yards and a couple of scores.

He also completed 6-of-8 passes for 45 yards, with Roper Ball (two catches, 22 yards) and Smith (two catches, 21 yards) leading the receiving corps.

Stanton’s two touchdowns came in the first half. He got loose on a 21-yard run in the first quarter and Ball added the kick for a 7-0 lead. Then, Stanton put Nanih Waiya up 13-0 with a 17-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Vardaman pulled within 13-7 at halftime and could not get closer.

Smith bolted 60 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter and Glass ran in the two-point conversion to put the Warriors ahead 21-7.

Vardaman answered to get within 21-14, but Smith scored again before the third quarter was over from 22 yards out. Ball’s kick made it 28-14.

Smith’s final touchdown of the night came in the fourth quarter, when he broke loose from 29 yards out. Nanih Waiya finished with 458 yards of total offense and 23 first downs, while Vardaman had 232 yards of total offense.

Deon Hickman had five total tackles including four solos and Dalton Luke also recorded five total stops to lead the Warrior defense.

Coley Taylor recorded four solo stops, while Kyle Holdiness had three tackles, a sack and a tackle for a loss. Smith had an interception and a fumble recovery and Isaac Eiland also had an interception.

Nanih Waiya is on the road again this week, as the Warriors travel to Ethel.

It’s been a rough 2017 season for the Tigers, who are 0-8 overall, 0-6 in division play and have been outscored on average 44.5 to 5.

Ethel’s closest game was a 26-6 setback to Sebastopol back in early September. Last week, the Tigers fell 42-6 to French Camp Academy.

Nanih Waiya beat Ethel 54-0 last year.