By Austin Bishop
The Winston County Journal
Once again a challenge was put in front of the Louisville High School Wildcats, as the top-ranked team in Class 3A was forced to travel to Charleston for the MHSAA Class 3A North State Championship Game last Friday night. Consider that challenge met.
The Wildcats used a couple strong defensive efforts to hold off Charleston early, then exploded for 21 second-quarter points to roll to a 35-0 win and a spot in the MHSAA Class 3A State Championship Game Saturday at 11 a.m. against Hazlehurst, the defending 3A State Champion.
“They always rise to the challenge,” LHS head coach M.C. Miller said of his Wildcats, “ and they did that against Charleston.”
The Wildcats were driving the ball early against Charleston but fumbled the ball away. The Defense rose to the occasion and got the ball back for the ‘Cats and the offense took over.
The ‘Cats held a 7-0 lead after one quarter of play thanks to a 17-yard touchdown pass from Wyatt Roberts to Desmond Goss to complete a seven-play, 76-yard touchdown drive. Corey McCullough was good on the first of his five extra point attempts.
LHS pushed that advantage out to 14-0 on a 1-yard run by Sangster early in the second quarter and the defense once again stepped up with a big play. Darius Miller jarred the ball loose from a Charleston receiver after he caught a pass and Lakendrick Vaughn scooped it up and raced in for a 38-yard touchdown.
“That was a big play right there,” Miller said. “It got us going pretty good.”
That it did.
Roberts hit Dontae Jones with a 15-yard scoring pass later in the quarter to put the winners, now 15-0 on the season, up 28-0 at the half. The touchdown was set up by a 60-yard pass play from Roberts to Jones.
The final score of the game came in the third quarter when Goss hauled in a 35-yard spring pass from Roberts.
“We had to keep our players in the game,” Miller said. “We had seen where Charleston had come back from way behind the week before and we had to make sure that didn’t happen.”
Roberts finished the night with 10-of-16 passing for 251 yards, while rushing for 82 yards on eight carries. Avonte Harris had 11 carries for 61 yards and Demarcus Brooks had eight carries for 33 yards. Goss had five catches for 109 yards, while Jones had four for 107 and Dalton Hudspeth one for 35 yards.
Jeremy Sangster led the LHS defense with 16 points, while Shaquille Shumaker had six and Darius Dora, Miller, Malik Slaughter and Ty Hathorn had five stops each. Miller also picked off a pass.
The shutout was the seventh of the year for LHS and it was the 11th time this season an opponent has scored one touchdown or less against the Wildcats. Louisville has given up just 86 points all season, with 27 of those coming against Water Valley in a 56-27 win in the second round of the playoffs.
Offensively, the ‘Cats have scored 608 points and registered at least four touchdowns in 13 of the 15 games they have played this season.
The Wildcats will face defending 3A champion Hazlehurst (14-1) for the state title Saturday morning at the Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson.
Tickets are available at the Louisville High School office for $12 each, with a portion of those ticket sales going to the school. They will be available for $13 at the game. Kick-off is set for 11 a.m. with the gates opening at 10. LHS will be the designated visiting team for the game.