By Ruthie Robison The Winston County Journal
The Noxapater Tigers carried their winning ways into the postseason.
Last Friday night the Tigers hosted the Region 4, No. 4 Dexter Bulldogs at Leon Burton Field in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A playoffs.
Noxapater routed their first playoff opponent, 46-14.
“We played well,” said head coach Justin Hunter. “The defense played great and put us in good positions on offense.”
The Tigers got off to a slow start remaining scoreless most of the first quarter until four seconds before the start of the second quarter.
Senior running back Keon Coburn made a 42-yard scamper to the end zone. Marshall Kugle added the extra point.
The Tigers took a 7-0 lead into the second quarter.
After forcing Dexter to punt, Noxapater began moving the ball down the field. With 9:41 left before the half, senior running back Trey Baber made a 29-yard rumble down the field breaking tackles as he entered the end zone.
After an interception by Anthony Brown, a few plays later Baber punched it in again this time from four yards out.
The Bulldogs had another short possession that followed.
Lakevin Smith caught the Dexter pass and ran the ball to the Bulldog 21-yard line. Noxapater capitalized again. Junior quarterback Tyrell Carter ran a keeper to the end zone from the two yard line. Trevara Miller added the point-after-touchdown.
“I thought our guys really responded after coming out a little flat,” Hunter said. “They really kicked it up a gear and got it going.”
With the help of the Tiger defense, Noxapater scored 26 unanswered points before halftime.
The Tiger defense had a combined total of eight interceptions with junior wide receiver and defensive back Justin Robertson owning four of the eight interceptions. Robertson now claims the school record for most interceptions during a game.
“We’re proud of (Robertson). He’s a good ballplayer, and he did a great job tonight reading the quarterback,” Hunter said.
With the Tiger defense staying solid in the second half of the game, Noxapater continued to score another 20 points in the third quarter.
Smith started the Tiger scoring in the second half of the game. Smith capped a six play, two-minute drive with a 10-yard run. Miller followed with the extra point.
After the kickoff, the Dexter possession was cut short. Baber caught an interception and made a dash from midfield for the pick-six. Miller added the extra point.
Noxapater had 40-0 advantage.
Robertson ended the ensuing Bulldog possession with a pick returned to Dexter territory. Two plays later Baber made a 22-yard run for the final Noxapater touchdown.
The Tiger reserves took over later in the third quarter and protected the Noxapater lead for the rest of the game.
“We were happy to be able to get some young guys in and give them some work,” Hunter said. “I thought they did a good job.”
Dexter scored once in the third quarter and once in the fourth quarter with two passing touchdowns.
“We put a lot of pressure on (Dexter’s quarterback),” said Hunter. “He made some great throws and completions. We were able to get some picks. When a kid can throw like that they’re going to make some plays and they did.”
Baber led the rushing attack with 11 carries for 144 yards with three touchdowns. Coburn followed with 14 carries for 125 yards with one touchdown. Carter had eight carries for 35 yards with one touchdown. Smith had on carry for nine yards with one touchdown. Freshman running back Vonte Woods had eight carries for 46 yards.
Carter was 8-16 through the air for 65 yards.
Justus Barfield had three receptions for 33 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Jacoby Lewis had seven stops with two sacks. Barfield had five stops with one sack while Miller had four stops with one sack. Robertson had two stops with four interceptions.
The Tigers hold a 10-2 overall record.
This Friday Noxapater will host the Region 4, No. 2 Stringer Red Devils.
The Red Devils have a matching 10-2 record, and recently defeated the Nanih Waiya Warriors, 54-7.
Both teams will be battling for the chance to play on Nov. 23 for the MHSAA Class 1A South Half championship.
Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m.