Samuel D. Logan
The Valdosta Daily Times
The Valdosta High Wildcats ran away with victory this week over the Crisp County Cougars with a final score of 40-6.
At halftime, the Wildcats had already racked up nearly 200 yards in rushing offense alone, thanks to their senior running back duo of Malcolm Joseph and Nelson Herring.
The Wildcat offense was phenomenal on the ground, with Nelson Herring leading the way with six runs of more than 10 yards. Herring finished the game with 146 rushing yards, while Malcolm Joseph was able to gain 85 yards the hard way, receiving a bulk of the carries.
Totaling 380 yards on offense and 420 total yards, the Wildcats dominated the game. Crisp County only managed to gain 142 yards offensively, in which the defense played a huge role.
Five touchdown scores by the Wildcats came on the ground, with each of the running threats, Herring, Joseph and quarterback Mac Loudermilk all having scoring plays. Loudermilk and Joseph racked up two touchdowns a piece.
Alex Cason had a nice punt return early in the game, but wasn’t a big factor in the offense today, missing a reception for a likely touchdown run early in the first quarter in addition to another drop late in the fourth.
“It was frustrating. We had some turnovers on offense and we knew they would give us some headaches,” said Wildcat Head Coach Rance Gillespie.
“The two backs played real well,” Gillespie added.
On defense the Wildcats looked unstoppable, causing four turnovers this week. The Wildcat defense had 11 turnovers in the last two games combined.
“They played well all night. A couple of times we did not match up right, but for the most part we played really good defensively like we have all year,” said Gillespie.
While the Wildcats' running game took off once again, the improved quarterback play was noticeable as well in the Wildcat win.
Mac Loudermilk and sophomore quarterback Seth Shuman combined for 7-12 through the air. Seth Shuman came in the game in the second half and made some nice passes from under center.
“I was excited about what we saw out of Seth Shuman at the end of the game,” said Gillespie.
The Wildcats did struggle once again this week with penalties, losing 70 yards due to them. “We did some good things, but there were some frustrating things we have to fix,” said Gillespie.
The game started with a 3 and out by the Cougars. The Wildcat defense set out to make a statement in the game very early. On the ensuing punt, Alex Cason returned the kick to the Crisp County 29-yard line. After a first down completion from Loudermilk to junior receiver Kaleb Whitfield was called back by a holding penalty on the offense, the Wildcats had a dismal drive, and were forced to punt after receiving great field position.
After Crisp County running back senior Jamie White broke a long run for 20 yards, the Wildcat defense buckled down producing a pass deflection by junior defensive back Tim McClain, an interception by sophomore Rashay March, and a sack by junior linebacker Terrell Roundtree.
The interception by March was fumbled and led to the Cougars receiving the ball back, before turning the ball over on downs to the Wildcats.
This is when the momentum switched over. Starting from their own four-yard line, the Wildcats drove all the way down the field with the help of running back Nelson Herring. In the red zone, the Wildcats handed the ball off to Malcolm Joseph who was stopped for a loss. The Wildcats proceeded to miss a chip shot field goal, keeping the score locked at 0-0.
After the Wildcat defense forced a 3 and out, the Wildcats ran on each play of the ensuing drive, capping it off with a short Loudermilk touchdown run, making the score 7-0, Wildcats.
Getting the ball right back after another 3 and out by Crisp County, Malcolm Joseph added to the score board on a touchdown run.
The Cougars continued to face trouble from the aggressive Wildcat defense, forced to punt once again. After a fake punt run by Loudermilk for a Wildcat first down, he forced a pass to Alex Cason and Cougar defensive back Montre Hartage.
The Cougars got their first score of the game with a touchdown run by their junior quarterback Witt Campbell making the score VHS 14, CCHS 6.
The second half continued the first half trend of big runs and great defense for the Wildcats. After a 3 and out, the Wildcat offense took a rest as a stunning defense took the field. Senior lineman Darrius Sapp caused havoc in the Cougar backfield forcing tackles for losses, tallied by sophomore linebacker Todd Bradley and even a tackle by Sapp himself.
Causing two fumbles in the second half, in addition to stifling defensive stops, the Wildcat defense made sure the Crisp County offense did not ever get started in the second half.
Tim McClain recorded the Wildcats only defensive interception of the game during a half that saw Crisp County go through a number of 3 and outs.
The Wildcats will have a tough week in practice once again as they prepare to take on the Newton Rams, a team that knocked off the Wildcats in town rival Lowndes just last week in a nail bitter.
The Wildcats kick off their next game 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, on Cleveland Field at Bazemore-Hyder stadium.