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The Vidalia Indians used a powerful running game and a hard-hitting, smothering defense to defeat Windsor Forest 29-6 Friday night in Savannah in the Region 3AA opener for both teams. With the win, the Indians moved to 3-2 overall and 1-0 in Region play.

The Indians wasted little time putting points on the board on the 2nd play from scrimmage. Following a nice kick return to the Knights’ 49-yard line, Jamarion Phillips ran off the right side for 3 yards to make in 2nd and 7. On the very next play, senior Antonio Barron swept right, avoided three would-be tacklers, and sprinted 46 yards for the touchdown. And, less than a minute into the game, the Indians led 6-0. Adam Crutchfield’s PAT hit the right upright and fell no good, and the score remained 6-0. It was Crutchfield’s first miss in 12 attempts.

The Indians’ defense then took over, forcing Windsor Forest to punt on their next possession and then held on a fourth down on their following possession to give the Indians the ball on their own 30-yard line. From there, it only took four plays for the Indians to add to their total.

On a first down from the Knight’s 40-yard line, Omarion Oglesby took the handoff, followed some good blocking, and outran Windsor Forest defenders 40 yards for the score. The Indians loaded up in a wishbone backfield for the two-point try, which was successful, and with 6:15 to go in the half, the Indians led 14-0.

But on the ensuing drive, Windsor Forest would get their only points of the night on a 3-yard Touchdown run by Anthony Williams to cap off a 9-play 84-yard drive, which was aided by two Vidalia penalties, which extended the drive. The point-after try was no good, and with 57 seconds left in the half, Vidalia led 14-6.

The Indians’ offense would use their two-minute offense to move the ball from their 27-yard line all the way to the Knights’ 22-yard line, with Indian quarterback Jackson Berry hooking up with three different receivers. The big shot came on a throw across the middle to sophomore DJ Wallace, who caught a ball underneath at the Knight’s 43-yard line and, sprinted to the Indian sideline at the 22-yard line, and appeared to get out of bounds with one second to go in the half. However, the referee ruled that time had expired, and the Indians went to the half leading 14-6.

The second half was much like the first, with the Indians forcing a three and out on Windsor’s first possession of the second half. Following a short punt to the Windsor 43-yard line, the Indians drove it 43-yards in 7 plays to score their third touchdown of the night. This time, it was Jamarion Phillips who would get the score on a 27-yard run, and following Crutchfield’s successful PAT, the Indians led 21-6 with 6:06 to go in the third quarter.

Again, the Indians’ defense came up big, forcing another three and out and a Knight punt. This time, however, senior Carson Ricks, who fielded the punt on a bounce, took a hard lick and lost possession of the ball, giving Windsor new life and the ball at their own 40-yard line.

On the first play of the possession, Cameran Woods would take the handoff and run through traffic all the way down to the Vidalia 22-yard line, and with a personal foul penalty for a late hit on the Indians, the Knights were in business at the Vidalia 13-yard line.

That’s when things began to get interesting. On the first down play, Windsor running back Izaiyah Cooper powered to the Vidalia 5-yard line. Then, on the second, third, and fourth downs, the Indian defense held Windsor at the five-yard line and what appeared to be a stop on downs, giving the ball to the Indians with 2:13 to go in the third quarter.

However, following a Windsor timeout, the referees spotted the ball back at the five-yard line and set the ball for play, saying it was 4th down and two for Windsor. This would have given the Knights a 5th down, but after much discussion and checking with the chain crew, the right call was made, and Vidalia had the ball first and ten at their own 5-yard line. “That was a great defensive stand,” said Vidalia Head Coach Rodney Garvin. “Our kids bowed their backs and played Vidalia football when they needed to.”

From there, the Indians drove the ball 95 yards in 10 plays to put the nail in the coffin, as Phillips scored his second touchdown of the night to put Vidalia up for good 29-6 following another 2-point try with 9:15 to go in the game.

The defense forced another three and out on the Knight’s next possession, which resulted in a punt to the Indians’ 34-yard line. The offense then pounded out a 62-yard drive, which chewed up the remaining 7:21, and Vidalia had their first Region win of the year 29-6.

After the game, Vidalia head Coach Rodney Garvin said he was proud of the way the team responded through a lot of adversity. “I am so proud of how our kids responded tonight and how they kept their cool under adverse conditions. We grew up a lot tonight and I am so happy for our kids, coaches, and community.”

On the night, the Indians racked up 412 yards, with 331 yards coming on the ground. Antonio Barron led the way with 124 yards on ten rushes with a TD. Jamarion Phillips added two more touchdowns and finished the night with 90 yards on 15 carries. Omarion Oglesby had 53 yards on three touches, with a touchdown, and Deante Terrell picked up 40 yards on three rushes.

Jackson Berry was 6 of 8 on the night for 81 yards, and Tucker McDonald was perfect with his only pass, a 26-yarder to Deante Terrell.

The Indians are off again this week before returning home to face Tattnall County on Thursday, October 5th.(Courtesy of Vidalia Athletics) 

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