Rockets defeat Ridgeland 42-35
The Neshoba Central Rockets picked up a big Region 2-5A victory on the road when they defeated Ridgeland 42-35 Friday night in prep football action.
The Rockets now stand at 7-0 overall and 5-0 in the region standings. Ridgeland drops to 4-2 and 3-1.
The Rockets will visit Jim Hill Friday night at the North field. The Tigers come into the game at 1-5 overall and 0-4 in the district. Last week, the Tigers lost at Holmes County Central 44-7. Ridgeland will be on the road Friday night when they visit the Vicksburg Gators.
“It was a great game offensively,” Coach Patrick Schoolar said. “The scoreboard doesn’t look like it was a great defensive game. They had some big explosive plays but I don’t think they had many long drives at all. Maybe, one or two. On the flipside, we were the same way. We had some big plays.
“When you work hard, good things happen. We put a lot of work during the off season and now it is paying off.”
The Rockets got on the scoreboard on the first down of their second possession when quarterback Eli Anderson connected with Dez McWilliams on a 70-yard TD pass play. Hunter Bavetta kicked the extra point and the Rockets took a 7-0 lead.
Neshoba Central forced Ridgeland to punt after four downs and quickly struck again. Anderson went to Elijah Ruffin, this time on a 25-yard TD pass play. Bavetta kicked the extra point and the Rockets led 14-0 with 3:28 left in the first quarter.
Ridgeland answered with a pair of touchdowns to tie the score. First, Titans quarterback Thomas Dyess passed to Ja’Braxton Boone for a touchdown. Dyess kicked the extra point and the Rockets led 14-7 with 8:50 left in the second quarter.
The Rockets took the ensuing kickoff, ran six plays and punted. Ridgeland took the ball on its 34-yard line, and eight plays later was in the endzone again. On fourth down, Dyess connected with Ayden Williams on a 23-yard touchdown pass. Dyess’ kick was good and the game was tied at 14-14 with 4:07 remaining in the half.
Neshoba Central took the ensuing kickoff on its 31-yard line and drove for a score in eight plays. Anderson passed to Bryceton Spencer for a seven-yard TD pass play. Bavetta kicked the extra point and the Rockets led at the half, 21-14.
The Titans took the second half kickoff and ran four plays before Elijah Ruffin recovered a fumble for the Rockets on the Neshoba Central 38-yard line. Eight plays later, the Rockets had the ball in the endzone as Anderson connected to Ja’Naylon Dupree on a five-yard TD pass play. Bavetta kicked the extra point and Neshoba Central led 28-14.
The Neshoba Central defense forced the Titans to punt the ball away. Three plays later, Anderson went to Spencer on a 28-yard touchdown pass play. Bavetta kicked the extra point and the Rockets led 35-14.
Ridgeland took the kickoff. On first down, Kamari Payne bolted 58 yards to give his team a first down on the Neshoba Central four-yard line. Payne carried it the rest of the way on the next play. Dyess kicked the extra point and the Rockets led 35-21.
On its next possession, the Rockets drove down to the Titans’ 30-yard line. Dupree took a pitch and ran 30 yards for a touchdown with 11:50 remaining in the game. Bavetta kicked the extra point and the Rockets led 42-21.
Ridgeland came back to score two touchdowns before time expired. Williams scored on a 62-yard run with 10:57 remaining. Neshoba Central ran seven plays before having to punt the ball away.
Ridgeland took over and ran 19 plays which ate up a lot of the clock. The Titans punted but got the ball back two plays later on an interception. That gave Ridgeland the ball on the Neshoba Central 40-yard line.
On the next play, Williams ran 60 yards for a touchdown. Dyess kicked the extra point and Neshoba Central’s lead was cut to seven points – 42-35.
Neshoba Central took the kickoff and with the help of a Titan off sides penalty, ran the clock out to take the victory.
Anderson threw for five touchdowns and 326 yards.