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Tri-County holds off Raiders

After several weeks and nearly 700-plus miles of road travels, the Tri-County Heroes returned to King Field Saturday night: the sight of their season-opening 21-20 win over the Mississippi (Pike County) Iron Horse.

     The home field advantage, along with a revamped offense and defense, aided the Heroes in a 22-14 win over the Mississippi (Jackson) Raiders.  The Tri-County defense held the Raiders to 112 yards of total offense on the night.

     With the win by the Heroes and the loss by the Raiders, both teams now stand at 2-2 in the Gridiron Developmental Football League’s Impact Conference’s Gulf Coast Division.

     The Hero defense produced the first points of the game, when Jeffrey Newton intercepted a Phillip Blackmon pass and returned it 2 yards for a touchdown.  Ryan Weaver’s PAT kick was good and Tri-County held the early 7-0 advantage.

     Tri-County’s offense got on the scoreboard in the second period on a 6-yard scoring scamper by quarterback Jimmy Johns.  Weaver’s kick was good and the Heroes carried a 14-0 lead into the halftime locker room.

     Johns added his second score of the night in the third frame.  He bullied his way into the end zone from 5 yards out.  Weaver’s kick was blocked, but the Heroes held a 20-0 cushion.

     Hero defensive tackle Jessie Bowman provided the final Hero points of the night, when he dropped Raider running back Iran Bickham in his own end zone for a safety.

     But no lead is safe until the final horn sounds, as evident by a pair of late Raider scores in the final stanza.

     With 10:18 left in the game, Chavon Washington returned a Johns  fumble 25 yards for a touchdown.  Reserve quarterback LaSteven Jackson found receiver Derrick Myles on the successful 2-point conversion try.

     Nearly 2 minutes later, Jackson hit wideout Cameron Nelson on a 9-yard scoring pass.  Jackson’s conversion was incomplete.

     The Heroes, coached by Phil Campbell, went to their ground game to run out the clock; holding the football for 7 of the final 8 minutes of the game.

     “Our defense really stepped up tonight when we needed them,” said Campbell following the game.  “They gave us some big stops in crucial situations.”

     The Tri-County defense limited the Raiders to 14 yards on the ground, and picked off 5 Raiders passes.  Chris Seals had 2 interceptions, with Newton, Courtney Hall and John Campbell with 1 each.  Rico Sorrell had 6.5 tackles.

     Offensively, Johns led the ground game with 99 yards on 17 rushes.  He was 4-of-5 passing for 66 yards.  Damoyn Carroll had 1 reception for 39 yards.

     “Offensively, we wanted to focus on the run,”  continued Campbell.  “We wanted to go to more of a ball-control attack.”

     Tri-County travels to Greenwood Saturday night to take on the Delta Blaze at Greenwood High School.  Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.