North Delta football

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Green Wave prevails over Calhoun despite adversity

By Angie Ledbetter

It was a mixed feeling when the North Delta Green Wave team came out on top 20-0 over the Calhoun Academy Cougars Friday night in Calhoun City.

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A few minutes before half time, junior quarterback  Blane Joyner went into the game to relieve senior quarterback Michael Johnson and Joyner went down with an injury with 3:42 left in the second quarter.

When Joyner did not move for a while, the fans, coaches, teammates and everyone were in complete shock.  As Joyner laid on the field, his teammates kneeled down and prayed for him.  

The stands and fields were cleared for for the Air Evac helicopter to land to transport Joyner to North Mississippi Baptist Hospital in Oxford.

Joyner was released from the hospital Saturday with no broken bones.

Johnson, a senior who transferred from North Panola this fall, had the quarterback position on his shoulders this week while senior J.T. Dalrymple recuperates from a shoulder injury.

With the weather situation, Johnson did not have a good week of practice, according to head coach Richard Russo.

Taking in consideration only four days of practice at the quarterback position, Johnson never gave up.  

Johnson also played defense and intercepted the Cougars’ ball in the first quarter. Minutes went by and Johnson scored the first touchdown of the night on a 29-yard run.  The PAT was good by Dalrymple for the 7-0 Green Wave lead.

With 7:25 on the clock, the Cougars fumbled the ball and the Green Wave recovered it.

Senior running back Devin Maples capitalized on that fumble with a two-yard touchdown run with 3:50 left.  The two-point conversion failed and the Green Wave led 13-0.

The Cougars were attempting to drive the ball down the field when Bateman Greenlee sacked the quarterback for a 10-yard loss forcing a punt.

A few minutes later the game took a turn for the worse when Joyner went down. His teammates came back after a delay in the game and played to win the game for him.  

The third quarter of the game started at 9:35 p.m.  Neither team scored in the third quarter.  

The fourth quarter of the game started at 10:05 p.m. when the game is usually over.

The only scoring in that quarter was a 44-yard run by Johnson with 8:44 left in the game. The PAT was good by Dalrymple for the 20-0 Green Wave win.  

The Green Wave defense  held the Cougars’ offense to only eight yards of total offense.

John Paul Keel led the team with 13 tackles, followed by Britt Lawrence with 11; Hunter West with nine; Bateman Greenlee with five and one quarterback sack; Johnson with two tackles, three interceptions, and three pass breakups; and Josh Garrott with one tackle for a loss.

Maples lead the team on offense with 137 yards on 15 carries with one touchdown of 29 yards.  Johnson had 14 carries for 92 yards with two touchdowns.  

West had 12 carries for 73 yards.  Josh Garrott had seven carries for 45 yards including a 25-yard carry.  John Paul Keel had six carries for eight yards and Joyner had one carry for two yards.

Dalrymple punted twice for an average of 36.5 yards.  

Johnson had three interception returns for 16 yards and Chance Crites had one kickoff return for two yards.

The Green Wave had 367 yards on rushing and minus eight in passing for a total offense of 359 yards.

They had 11 first downs, one interception, and 13 penalties for 135 yards. They had 203 rushing yards negated due to penalties and 35 yards brought back due to penalties for a total of 238.  With 135 yards stepped off against them, they ended up with 373 yards in penalties.

The Green Wave had three touchdowns negated plus one touchdown was not called to them after Michael Johnson crossed the endzone.

The Cougars had five first downs and eight yards rushing.  They had 55 yards in passing to give for a total offense of 63 yards. Calhoun was penalized four times  for 20 yards.

Head Green Wave Coach Richard Russo was very proud of the team and said any lesser team would have given up after a teammate went down.

“I thought they fought to the very end,” he said.

Russo liked the way Michael Johnson managed the offense.

“He graded 87 percent after we graded the film study which for a first-time quarterback is outstanding,” Russo “He managed the huddle well. The kids said that he had poise. They felt confident with him quarterbacking the huddle. I am very tickled about how he played.”

The defense also got some praise from the coach.  

“Calhoun is a power running team,” he explained. “That’s their trade mark, and their signature,” said Russo.  “Our defense allowed eight rushing yards for the entire night.  That is outstanding.”

Russo said he was pleased with how well the entire team played, but they have got to keep improving and not rest on their laurels.

Coach Lance Thomas was also pleased with the team’s performance.

“Every time we had some momentum going, we were fighting just more than the team,” Thomas said. “Calhoun hit hard. They were a physical team and I give them that, but they had a lot of help.”

According to Thomas, good things did happen on the field like Johnson’s quarterback play.  

“We had some struggles during the week in practice, but not a problem at all during the game,” Thomas said. “He seemed to get better as the game went along. We put a lot of pressure on him with only four days of practice. Our defense played extremely well. We were physical also.”

Johnson talked about the emotional impact on the team when Joyner went down.

“It was a major blow to us,” he said. “Everybody was down because the guys on the other team were laughing at Blane and telling him to not get up. Devin came over there and gave us a pep talk and the whole team was ready to go.  Everybody buckled down and did their part and we came out with the victory.”

Johnson said it felt “awesome” to come out and start as the quarterback for the Green Wave team.

“It was so much fun,” he said. “ I was never nervous.  I just didn’t want to fumble the snap.”

Keel said it took the defense to win the game.  

“We played really hard defense,” he said. “ I didn’t like a lot of flags being thrown.”

Britt Lawrence agreed  that it took everybody playing 100 percent the entire time to win the game.

“We were very upset when Blane got hurt,” Keel said. “The other team didn’t show any class.  They were constantly making fun of Blane.  Their fans and players were all doing it and it upset us a lot.”

                                          1       2    3    4      F
North Delta (3-1-0) A           13     0    0    7     20
Calhoun Aca. (1-3-0) A         0      0    0    0       0
Scoring Summary
North Delta – Michael Johnson 29 run (J.T Dalrymple kick); North Delta – Devin Maples 2 run (pass failed); North Delta – Michael Johnson 44 run (J.T Dalrymple kick)

Capping off a full week of school activities, the Green Wave will host non-conference foe Marshall Academy Friday beginning at 7:30 p.m.