Lideatrick Griffin (5) picks up a first down in the Tornadoes Homecoming win over Kemper County.
Lideatrick Griffin (5) picks up a first down in the Tornadoes Homecoming win over Kemper County.
Philadelphia’s marathon 41-14 Homecoming win over Kemper County last Friday night included a little bit of everything.

It didn’t, however, include what head coach David Frey was looking for out of his Tornadoes in their final tune-up for division play.

“We were sloppy, especially at first,” Frey said after his team, which lost fumbles on its first two offensive plays. “We just weren’t sharp. They were not focused at all.

“It’s Homecoming week and it’s always a lot of distractions with so much going on,” Frey said. “I told the guys it’s a good thing we got this out of the way this week.”

The win over Kemper lasted 3 hours, 5 minutes. The teams combined for nine turnovers, 21 penalties and 63 pass attempts.

But when it finally ended, the Tornadoes were standing tall at 5-1 while Kemper County remained winless at 0-6.

“We were concerned going in,” Frey said. “We had a lot of distractions and they’ve got athletes. They’ve got a defensive lineman that’s really good and getting him blocked was one of the things we were focused on offensively.”

After losing fumbles on their first two possessions, the turnover tables turned for the Tornadoes, and Philly made an inexperienced Kemper squad pay for its mistakes.

Despite the early opportunities, the visiting Wildcats had a horrendous first half at Harpole Stadium. In the first two quarters alone, Kemper threw three interceptions and lost a fumble, had a blocked punt, a botched punt and a failed fake punt.

All of that meant a short field for Philadelphia. The Tornadoes started six first-half possessions on the Kemper side of the field, four of them inside the Wildcats’ 20-yard line.

One of those interceptions set the Tornadoes up at the Kemper 20 late in the first quarter, and Trey Crockett plunged it in from 2 yards out to start the scoring with 1:21 on the game clock.

Just 48 seconds later, Crockett and Philly were in the end zone again.

After the first TD, Kadarius Callaway picked off a pass on Kemper’s next play and returned it 45 yards to the Wildcats’ 5. Two plays later, Crockett rolled in from 2 yards out again, and Connor Long’s second straight successful point-after kick made it 14-0.

The Tornadoes put up three touchdowns in the second quarter to turn the contest into a rout.

Calloway got it started with a pick-6, returning an interception 25 yards for a touchdown and a 20-0 lead.

After the Tornadoes took possession on the Kemper side again at the 43, Mississippi State commit Lideatrick Griffin took over. Griffin busted a 22-yard run on the first play of the drive, then bolted in from 21 yards out for a touchdown. Asher Morgan found Raedarius Triplett for the two-point pass and a 28-0 lead.

Calloway added another score later in the quarter on a 66-yard catch-and-run from a scrambling Morgan – and Morgan hooked up with Tanner Boler on an 11-yard scoring strike early in the third quarter to make it a 41-0 game.

Kemper added both of its scores in the final 2:31 of the contest.

There wasn’t much difference in the final statistics: PHS out-gained Kemper 277-234 in total yards and 11-10 in first downs. But the Tornadoes took advantage of six turnovers and 11 penalties by the Wildcats.

“Thank goodness we were able to settle down and play better in that second quarter,” Frey said.

Calloway caught three balls for 83 yards and Boler three for 38 yards from Morgan, who threw for 147 on the night.

The Tornadoes are at home again this week, playing host to Scott Central in their division-opener.