• John Macon Gillespie

Coverage Recap: Noxapater 29 | Vardaman 18

The Noxapater Tigers proved their resiliency once again on Thursday as they defeated their region-rival Vardaman.

The Tigers (8-2, 6-1 Region 3-1A) defeated Vardaman (6-4, 4-3 Region 3-1A) 29-18, the third win for Noxapater in as many games in the series since 2013.

Noxapater relied heavily on the run from the outset of the game. The Tigers utilized athletes like Joshua McClendon and Depodray Coburn to take advantage of holes in the Ram front-seven. All of Noxapater’s offensive touchdowns came via the ground game.

Vardaman jumped out to a 15-0 lead early in the first half after a touchdown pass from Trae Owen to Wesley Casey, a pick-six by Patrick Pratt (his 19thcareer interception) and a field goal from Owen. Noxapater would score 22-unanswered in the 2nd quarter, however, as their run game settled in. After a touchdown run by Ryan Whitfield (who also converted the 2-point try), the Tigers scored on back-to-back pick-sixes thrown by Owen: one to McClendon and the other to Jared Triplett.

The Tiger defense eliminated the Ram rushing threat, something that has rarely been done this season. Early on, Vardaman had success in the passing game early, but the improvement of the Tiger secondary and miscues by the Rams led to its first-half decline. A Vardaman field goal to close out the first half gave Noxapater a 22-18 advantage at intermission.

Neither team scored in the second half until Tiger quarterback Quinton Jordan found pay dirt on the ground against a fatigued Ram defense.

For Noxapater, their attention now turns to undefeated Nanih Waiya. The Tigers need to upset the Warriors and for Sebastopol to top French Camp Academy next week in order to land Region 3-1A’s #2 seed. Barring those results, Noxapater will enter the postseason as the #3 seed. Vardaman has to defeat Hamilton next week in order to secure a postseason bid. Depending on the result of Hamilton’s game against Leake County tonight, next week’s game between the Rams and Lions could be a win-and-in scenario for the #4 seed in the region.

#Noxapater #JohnMaconGillespie

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