Rams Clinch Second With Win Over Smithville

ruth.jpgThe Vardaman Rams (7-3, 7-2) locked up the second seed and a first
round home playoff game with a 28-6 victory over Smithville (7-3, 6-3)
Thursday night at Carter Field.


By JOEL McNEECE
The Vardaman Rams (7-3, 7-2) locked up the second seed and a first round home playoff game with a 28-6 victory over Smithville (7-3, 6-3) Thursday night at Carter Field.
Vardaman finishes their season next Friday at West Oktibbeha. They will open the playoffs likely against Drew or Shaw.
Smithville will drop to the fourth spot with the loss and travel to Ray Brooks for the first round of the playoffs on Nov. 14.
Thursday’s outcome locked Calhoun City into third place in the region, meaning they will travel to Greenville-St. Joe for their playoff opener.
ruth.jpgSmithville and Vardaman both played short-handed Thursday night. The Seminoles were without starting RB Antwune Freeman. The Rams were also missing their top runner in Xavier Humphries.
The Rams opened the scoring after defensive lineman Jordan Inman jumped on a Smithville fumble at the ‘Nole 34 yard line. Two plays later QB Gene Ruth, who finished 6-11 passing for 121 yards, hit Damon Johnson with a 33-yard touchdown pass to put the Rams up 7-0 barely four minutes into the game. Johnson finished as the top receiver in the game with 77 yards on four catches.
Smithville responded with a 70-yard drive, scoring on a 6-yard touchdown pass from QB Brett Bridges to Datrune Freeman. The extra point missed for a 7-6 lead.
Ruth then extended the lead again with a 80-yard return of the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. Kevin Barnette’s extra point put Vardaman in front 14-6 headed into the half.
The Rams owned the third quarter. It started with a 7-play, 65-yard scoring march. Ruth accounted for the touchdown on a 22-yard run. The big play of the drive was a 37-yard screen pass from Ruth to Willie Lee. Barnette’s kick put the Rams in control at 21-6.
On the Seminoles’ ensuing possession, the Ram defense forced a punt and LB Kevin Barnette broke through the line, blocking the kick, and proceeded to scoop it up on the run and race 25 yards for the touchdown and a 28-6 lead.
The remainder of the game was a penalty fest. Vardaman finished with 14 flags for 136 yards while Smithville had nine penalties for 60 yards.
The game ended on a down note as Smithville QB Brett Bridges was injured on what turned out to be the final play of the game. Bridges was attempting to sneak the ball into the end zone from the 1-yard line when he got twisted back in an awkward position, injuring his neck.
He was eventually placed on a stretcher and into an ambulance. Game officials ran the final two minutes off the clock while emergency workers were tending to Bridges. He was treated and released from the hospital that night.
Ram LB Kevin Barnette, who made the tackle on the play, was ultimately suspended by the Mississippi High School Activities Association for the remainder of the football season. Vardaman has appealed the ruling with a hearing scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 6 in Clinton.

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