Trojans march on to second round
Last Friday night, the Trojans notched Magee High School’s first playoff victory since defeating Moss Point in 2014 as a 4A team.
Since being reclassified as a 3A, Magee has been caught in a first round curse that had plagued the teams the past four seasons and have seen some promising Trojan teams fall earlier than expected. The thing is, Magee did not only win this past Friday, they dominated.
After the game, Coach Dyess spoke fondly of his Magee team after the big win, "It's huge, it's been a long time since Magee's won a playoff game. This team's continued to get better each week and we can't wait to go on the road next week to try to pull off the upset.”
The Trojan defense, which has emerged as one of the stingier defenses in 3A, showed that they were in playoff form during the 50 to 24 beat down of the Hazlehurst Indians. Magee's defense played downhill all night, as the team racked up six sacks and 25 tackles for loss. The offense faced short fields the majority of the night due to the strong performance of the Magee defense and the opportunistic Trojan special teams that blocked one punt and had several long returns.
Magee is riding a bit of a hot streak after falling to Velma Jackson and looks to continue that streak against an undefeated Winona team next week.
The Trojans started the game with the ball at their own 41. The offense wasted little time setting the tone for the game as the team took only five plays and 1:55 minutes to march down the field for a touchdown. On the first play of the drive, Javo Thurman connected with Xavier "X-Man" Franks for a 24-yard catch and run to move the ball to the Hazlehurst 35. Thurman followed up the long strike to Franks with a bubble screen to speedster Josh Sanders, who picked up 9 to put Magee in the redzone early. Ross McInnis tacked on a 2-yard run to move the sticks and set-up a WR screen to Matthew Thurman for 12 to give the Trojans first and goal at the Hazlehurst 6. Thurman found Sanders on the next play to finish off the drive with a 6-yard touchdown on a crisply run out route followed by a Sam Rials PAT to give Magee an early 7-0 lead.
The Indians looked to respond to the early Trojan score on their first drive of the game. Unfortunately for Hazlehurst, Etoya "Money" Traxler became very fond of living in the Indians' backfield, as "Money" cashed in on two TFL on the drive to force a Hazlehurst punt. The Trojans sent the house at the Indians' punter and hit home as freshman Jody Durr timed his leap just right to block the punt and give the Trojans the ball at the Hazlehurst 17. After being gifted a free 5 yards on an offside penalty by the Indians, Magee's offense punched the ball in on the first play of the drive on a 12-yard McInnis touchdown to push the lead to 14-0 with barely 3 minutes off the game clock. On their next drive, Hazlehurst continued to have "Money" problems as Traxler disrupted the Indian backfield on a number of plays to force yet another punt attempt, this time from inside Hazlehurst’s own 5. The snap flew over the punter’s head, but he managed to recover the ball amidst a horde of Trojans in the endzone to award Magee 2 points and the ball on the safety.
Now up 16-0, the Trojans looked to start the blowout early as the teams lined up for the free kick after the safety. Star DB Terrell Thornton took the free kick 50-yards down to the Hazlehurst 10. The Magee drive unfortunately sputtered to a stop inside the 1 after failing to convert on 4th and goal. The Indians looked to get some breathing space after taking over on downs inside their own 5. The Magee defense refused to concede an inch as they forced yet another Hazlehurst punt, this time from their own endzone. The Indian kicker was able to initially avoid danger as he got off a decent punt that was fielded by Sanders at the 35. The "Human Video Game" then turned on the jets and left the Hazlehurst punt team in his dust as he sped to a 35-yard punt return for a touchdown to push the Trojans' lead to 23-0. After forcing yet another punt by the Indians on their next possession, Magee made their first mistake of the game as a bobbled snap by J. Thurman was recovered by Hazlehurst and returned to the Magee 10 by Darion Munson. The Indians would score their first points of the contest, as Larry Wilson pounded it in from 1-yard to shorten the gap to 23-6 early in the second quarter.
Magee's offense took the field looking to erase the taste of the turnover on the previous drive as the team turned to McInnis to get things back on track. McInnis picked up 9 on 2nd and 12 to set-up a manageable 3rd and 3 for the Trojans. J. Thurman hit "X-Man" Franks on a tunnel screen and let Franks show he may be the "X-Factor" as he racked up 15-yards after the catch (YAC). The Trojans were now staring down another scoring opportunity from just outside the Hazlehurst 10. J. Thurman dropped back on first down and starred down his intended receiver as he fired an ill-advised pass into double coverage where it was picked off by the Indians at their own 6. For the second drive in a row, the Trojan defense took the field after a Thurman turnover. Luckily, this time the field position seemed to favor the Trojans a little better, as the Indians had the ball inside their own 10 rather than the Trojans' 10. This aspect did not, however, deter Hazlehurst from achieving the same result on this drive, as JaQuan Copeland took off on a 94-yard touchdown run to draw the Indians even closer to the Trojans as the lead shrank to 23-12 with 8:19 remaining until halftime.
With momentum possibly swinging towards the Hazlehurst sideline, the Trojans looked to get out of their own way on offense after back-to-back drives ending in Thurman turnovers. The drive started with much promise after Thornton returned the ball to the Magee 25 with a 15-yard facemask on top of it to give the Trojans the ball on the Magee 40. McInnis took the ball to the Indians' side of the 50 as Magee looked to widen their lead. Unfortunately, the drive came to a screeching halt when Thurman’s pass was intercepted by Hazlehurst again at their own 32. The Magee defense, lead by K.D. Dampeer, forced a quick 3-and-out and another Hazlehurst punt. Apparently the Indians’ punter did not read the memo that Sanders is an explosive return man that you should kick away from. Sanders fielded the punt and took it 30-yards down to the Hazlehurst 33 after making several potential tacklers miss to set Magee up with another scoring opportunity. On the ensuing drive, the Trojans erred on the side of caution on the drive and kept the ball in the arms of McInnis on the ground. Magee avoided disaster early in the drive as a McInnis fumble bounced harmlessly out of bounds at the Hazlehurst 33.
Two plays later, the Trojans faced 4th and 1 at the Indian 30 and turned to McInnis to pick up the first. Luckily, McInnis got more than Magee needed as he barreled down the field for a 30-yard Trojan touchdown to push the lead up to 30-12. After a Thornton interception, Magee took control of the ball at their own 14. McInnis took the first play of the drive 25-yards to the 39, followed by a Thurman to Chandler Pittman pass for 20 to get the ball over to the Hazlehurst side of the field. J. Thurman connected with M. Thurman on a 35-yard pitch and catch that found the endzone after some fancy moves by M. Thurman to push the lead to 38-12 Magee's way late in the first half.
The Trojans were not done in the first half, after recovering a well placed Rials kickoff that landed between two Hazlehurst players, bounced straight in the air as the two collided with each other, and ended up in the arms of Cameron Sullivan at the bottom of the skirmish at the Indian 38. On a third down play, Thurman threw a prayer into double coverage that turned into a spectacular tip-drill catch by Sanders, who scampered to the endzone for a 38-yard touchdown to give the Trojans a 44-12 lead at the half.
With the game well in hand, Magee called off the dogs offensively in the second half, but kept up the pressure defensively as the Trojans continued to hold the Indians at bay. The lone score of the third quarter came on a 1-yard touchdown run by Wilson to make the score 44-18 entering the fourth. The Trojans would tack on another touchdown late in the fourth, after taking over on downs at the Hazlehurst 9. McInnis took the ball to the 6 where CP2 would finish the drive on the ground to increase the lead to 50-18 for the Trojans. The last bit of fireworks of the game came on a sensational return 90-yard kickoff return by Wilson, that started with the Indians' return man dropping the ball and falling on his own 10 before regaining control of the ball and finding room along the Hazlehurst sideline to make the score 50-24 which would be the final on the night.
The Trojans were able to shirk their first-round blues to set-up a date with the undefeated Tigers of Winona. The Tigers come into the game as the #1 seed out of Region 5 and have not lost since last year’s State Championship game against Collins.
The man at the center of everything for the Tigers is quarterback An'darius Coffey, who is a balanced dual-threat QB with 1,193 rushing yards and 1,168 passing yards on the season. Coffey sports 12 TDs through the air and 17 on the ground. Magee's defense has a daunting test ahead of them as the Tigers vanquished Tylertown 44-22 last Friday after being tied at 22 with little over 9 minutes remaining.
After the game, Coach Dyess stated some things the Trojans need to address after the lopsided victory over the Indians, "We just lost our intensity a little bit after we got the big lead. You've got to play the whole 48 minutes, but overall we're pleased with our performance."
The Trojans will be traveling over two hours away to take on the Winona Tigers at 7 p.m. this Friday. Make sure to pack your rain coats, ponchos, and umbrellas and bundle up as it looks to be cold and wet in Winona.