By Brad Greer
The smiles on the faces of the North Delta football players and coaches as they boarded a charted bus back to Batesville meant only one thing.
Victory at last.
Aided by a tremendous goal line stand late in the third quarter, the Green Wave broke open a tight 14-0 contest in route to a 33-12 thumping of Tunica Academy Friday night to register their first win of the season.
Tunica, (1-1), took the second half kickoff and marched 50 yards on 14 plays down to the Green Wave one-yard line to set up second-and-goal. That is where the North Delta defense took over.
Linebacker Ray Tucker dropped tailback Freeman Gray for a two-yard loss that set up 4th-and-goal from the three. On the very next play, Michael Magee sacked Blue Devil quarterback Brandon Holmes for a 12-yard loss.
From there the whole complexion of the game changed as North Delta drove 85 yards in four plays for a touchdown as quarterback Derick Shawn connected with Chris Reeves on a 15-yard pass reception to give the Green Wave a 21-0 lead with 2:56 remaining in the third quarter. Tailback Tres
Brasell’s 62-yard gallop to the Blue Devil 15 spearheaded the drive.
“There was no doubt that the goal line stand turned the whole game around. If they would have scored right there you’re looking at a 14-7 ball game. Not only did we stop them but the defense pushed them back and started a drive where we ended up scoring. That whole series of events was a huge momentum shift for us,” said North Delta head coach Dan Werner.
North Delta, (1-1), scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to put the game away as sophomore tailback Chris Rodgers scored on touchdown runs of 16 and 13 yards. Rodgers entered the game in the fourth quarter and rushed for 100 yards on eight carries.
Brasell led the Green Wave rushing attack with 208 yards on 25 carries and one touchdown. North Delta rolled up 392 yards of total offense including 295 yards rushing. Brasell’s six-yard TD run gave North Delta a 6-0 lead with 4:16 left in the first quarter.
“The offensive line, as a whole, played an outstanding game tonight. Tres made some plays on his own and broke a few tackles but who I was most impressed with was the second unit who came in and opened some holes for Chris there in the fourth quarter, “ said Werner.
Not to be overshadowed however was the ball-hawking Green Wave defense that surrendered 189 yards of total offense, 107 of which came in the fourth quarter alone. North Delta’s front seven completely shut down Tunica’s rushing game by holding the Blue Devils to 12 yards. Tunica got on the board late in the fourth quarter on a pair of touchdown passes from Holmes to Perry Turner with the latter coming on the last play of the game.
“The defense really stepped up our game tonight. We came out with a chip on our shoulders after we lost to Magnolia Heights last week . We ran to the ball and stayed with our assignments. Our coaches did a great job of preparing us all week, “ said linebacker John Paul Keel who’s 15 tackles and fumble recovery led the Wave on defense.
Ray Tucker and Magee both had 10 tackles each. Tucker’s blocked punt in the third quarter set up a North Delta scoring drive. Gerri Lamm and Kasey Livingston were also in on fumble recoveries while Bryan Nickle added an interception to go along with two receptions for 56 yards. Corbin Baker also caught two passes including a 20-yard scoring strike from Shawn in the second quarter to give North Delta a 14-0 lead. Shawn had 97 yards through the air on 5- of-16 passing and one interception. Holmes completed 19-of-29 passes for 177 yards and one interception for the Blue Devils.
North Delta will open up its home slate Friday night at 7:30 P. M against Clarksdale Lee, who defeated Kirk 34-12 Friday night.