Nanih Waiya's Taemeaus Glass( 22) pushes hard toward the goal line against Noxapater last Thursday.
Nanih Waiya's Taemeaus Glass( 22) pushes hard toward the goal line against Noxapater last Thursday.
By Rocky Higginbotham

Kemper County Messenger

Nanih Waiya has gotten plenty of attention for its offensive exploits over the last couple of years.

But in a cross-county showdown with Noxapater last Thursday night, it was the defense which showed out.

Nanih Waiya held the visiting Tigers to 15 yards of total offense and rode a big night from Taemaus Glass to a 36-0 victory in front of a standing-room-only crowd.

It was the 33rd straight district win for the Warriors, who improved to 12-0 overall and 8-0 in Region 3-1A play this season. Noxapater fell to 8-3 and 6-2.

How dominating was Nanih Waiya’s defense?

— The Warriors held Noxapater to a minus-(-12) yards in the first quarter, forcing a pair of three-and-out possessions to start the game;

— Nanih Waiya did not allow Noxapater to cross onto the Warriors’ side of the field until there were about 3 minutes remaining with a running clock and a six-touchdown lead;

— Noxapater completed two passes for 23 yards and Joshua McClendon ran the ball nine times for 18 yards to lead the Tigers. But the team’s other 23 plays totaled a negative-(-26) yards.

“Our defense was really outstanding, especially up front,” Nanih Waiya coach Ryan Keeton said. “We had to move some guys around in the secondary because of some issues … so I was really proud of the way our guys handled that adversity. They were lights out. They stepped up and played their best on a big stage.”

Glass, meanwhile, romped his way to 238 yards and a couple of touchdowns. He got the scoring started with a 34-yard touchdown run just 72 seconds into the game; and he finished the scoring midway through the fourth quarter when he followed up his own 47-yard rumble with a 1-yard TD plunge.

“When you’ve got Chris (Smith) and you can move him around and take a guy with him and get another guy out of the box, Taemaus really took advantage and racked up the yards,” Keeton said of Glass, who is now up to 1,370 yards rushing for the year – the third consecutive season he’s topped the 1,000-yard mark.

“Chris still caught a couple of touchdowns and Taemaus ran in a couple touchdowns … and hey, that’s a good defense Noxapater has. I was really proud of the way our O-line played and the way we executed tonight.”

Noxapater didn’t help its cause with poor field position fueled by the negative plays and eight penalties. The Tigers also fumbled six times, losing a pair.

“Our guys have battled all year long and came into tonight with two losses by three total points. They could have easily been 10-0,” Noxapater coach Casey Orr said. “We just ran into a good football team tonight. They’re good on both sides of the football.

“We played our hearts out and didn’t quit, but we got ourselves in a lot of bad situations and you can’t do that against a good football team.”

After the first score by Glass, Nanih Waiya turned the ball over on downs on its next possession.

But the Warriors scored on the next two, getting a 1-yard quarterback sneak from Bryce Stanton to make it a 12-0 game. Then, on a third-and-12 play, Stanton hit Smith on a 47-yard touchdown and the Warriors were up 18-0.

It was 24-0 at halftime, as Stanton found Smith on a 15-yard strike for a touchdown with 27.4 seconds left in the second quarter.

Noxapater fumbled on the first play of the third quarter and Dalton Luke recovered, setting up a 5-yard scoring toss from Stanton to Roper Ball.

That was the only scoring of the third period, and Glass had the only TD of the fourth quarter as the Warriors won their fifth straight in the rivalry.

Nanih Waiya’s stout defensive effort included eight total tackles including a sack and three tackles for a loss by Charner Estes, eight tackles from Coley Taylor, and seven tackles including one TFL and the fumble recovery from Luke.

Glass also recorded six tackles and one TFL and Shia Moore had six total stops and a fumble recovery. Ball had five tackles, while Smith, Blake Sheets and Cole Misso all had a tackle for a loss.

Both teams are in playoff action this week, as Nanih Waiya hosts East Marion and Noxapater goes to Stringer. Kickoff for both games is Friday at 7 p.m.

Nanih Waiya is drawing a No. 4 seed in East Marion, but Keeton is wary of the Eagles and highly-touted running back Jarveon Howard.

“They’ve got a very talented football team,” Keeton said. “I think it goes to show how strong that division was this year. We’re getting a No. 4 and getting an SEC-caliber running back to deal with.”

Howard is being recruited by half the schools in the Southeastern Conference and has offers from four – including Mississippi State and Ole Miss. The 5-foot-10, 205-pounder has 12 Division I offers total. He’s rushed for 1,508 yards and totaled 24 touchdowns this season, averaging 12.8 yards per carry. He also had 16 two-point conversion runs.

“They’ve been explosive with him,” Keeton said of the Eagles, who lost by only four points to Region 4-1A champion Lumberton and are 5-6 overall.

Noxapater, meanwhile, will travel to a Stringer team which was the 4-1A runnerup and is 9-3 overall. The Red Devils had won nine games in a row before back-to-back losses to end the regular season, including a 42-38 shocker to Sacred Heart last week.

“We’ve got to regroup and get ready to go to somebody else’s field and play,” Orr said. “We’ll just have to bounce back.”