By JOEL McNEECE
The Calhoun City Wildcats utilized an explosive passing game and a strong pass defense to defeat the Bruce Trojans Thursday night 28-12.
The win clinches a second seed for the Wildcats and a first round home game next Friday in the Class 2A playoffs. Bruce will enter the playoffs as a fourth seed traveling to either West Bolivar or Hollandale Simmons next week.
It took the Wildcats only 14 seconds to grab the lead, one they would never relinquish. Sophomore Aaron Thompson (pictured running ball for 'City) returned the opening kickoff 86 yards for a Wildcat touchdown. Raheem Roberson added the extra point for a 7-0 score.
After an exchange of punts that improved the Trojans' field position, Bruce answered with a 36-yard touchdown drive. Freshman Shaq Bush (#7 pictured below), who finished with a game-high 63 yards rushing on eight carries, accounted for the touchdown on a 14-yard run. The extra point failed for a 7-6 'City lead midway through the opening quarter.
The Wildcats wasted little time getting those points back via the arm of junior QB J.R. Jennings. A 31-yard pass from Jennings to Thompson was immediately followed with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Avery Hill. Roberson added the extra point for a 14-6 score. Jennings finished the night 8-15 passing for 188 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Jennings and Demarius Howard hooked-up for the next Wildcat score. The pass play went for 51 yards to push Calhoun City in front 21-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Bruce responded on its ensuing possession to start the second quarter. Bush capped an 8-play scoring drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to close the gap to 21-12. The extra point again failed.
The Wildcats consumed most of the third quarter clock with an 80-yard, 13-play drive that included 11 rushes. Howard earned the touchdown on a 2-yard run for a 28-12 advantage. Howard finished with 47 yards rushing to lead the Wildcats. Avery Hill rushed for 30 yards on eight carries and Tevin Hall added 24 yards on eight carries as well.
The Bruce offense moved the ball in the second half, but the Wildcat defense would never let it in the end zone. The Trojans penetrated the Wildcats' 25-yard-line on four of their last five possessions of the game, but failed to come away with points on any of them. Three of the four deep drives ended in interceptions. Demarius Howard accounted for three. Aaron Thompson and Tray Pratt each had one interception.
Bruce's Freshman QB Davis Brown completed 6-19 passes for 84 yards and four interceptions. The fifth interception by the Wildcats came on a halfback pass.
In addition to Bush's 63 yards, the Trojans top rushers were senior Nick Smith with 52 yards, freshman Zay Armstrong with 33 yards and sophomore Demetrius Evans with 15.
Rod Harris recorded an interception for the Trojan defense.