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Opening kickoff sets the tone as Centreville falls to Simpson, 20-7, in state title game

Centreville Academy’s Colby Shaw is met by Simpson Academy’s Andrew Berry as Berry carries the ball Friday during the MAIS Class AA state championship game at Mississippi College in Clinton. Centreville lost, 20-7. (Brittney Lohmiller \ The Natchez Democrat)
Centreville Academy’s Colby Shaw is met by Simpson Academy’s Andrew Berry as Berry carries the ball Friday during the MAIS Class AA state championship game at Mississippi College in Clinton. Centreville lost, 20-7. (Chris Todd \ Special to the Democrat)

CLINTON — From the opening kickoff, Centreville Academy had already had its backs against the wall.

And the Tigers never could quite overcome No. 1-seeded Simpson Academy in a 20-7 loss in the MAIS Class AA state title game at Mississippi College’s Robinson-Hale Stadium.

Tiger fans could be heard groaning after Simpson’s Andrew Berry returned the opening kick for 67 yards, setting up an easy scoring opportunity for the Cougars. Seven plays later, the Cougars got in the end zone on a 2-yard rush from Daniel Taylor, giving Simpson an early 7-0 lead at the 8:26 mark in the first.

Centreville head coach Bill Hurst said the opening kickoff seemed to have a lasting impression on his squad’s defense.

Centreville head coach Bill Hurst looks on during the game. (Chris Todd \ Special to the Democrat)
Centreville head coach Bill Hurst looks on during the game. (Chris Todd \ Special to the Democrat)

“The opening kickoff really hurt us a lot,” Hurst said. “It kind of set the stage for the whole game. It was like we were shell shocked.”

The Tigers allowed Simpson 340 rushing yards, with Berry accounting for 125 of those yards along with two touchdowns. Centreville quarterback Britt Netterville threw the ball well, completing 12 of 21 passes for 157 yards.

Centreville missed its chance to strike back and tie the game, as the Tigers fumbled the ball just two plays into their first drive. The Cougars’ recovery put them at the Tigers’ 49-yard line and set up for an easy score four plays later when Barry barreled through the end zone on an 11-yard rush. The extra point gave Simpson a 14-0 lead with 6:22 remaining in the first quarter.

The Tigers finally settled in on defense the rest of the first half, but Centreville wasn’t able to get anything going offensively. When Centreville finally got a good rhythm going, bad snaps would put them back at least 10 yards.

“We snapped some balls over the quarterback’s head, and we had some good drives going when we did it,” Hurst said. “When you play a good football team, you can’t make those type of mistakes.”

The Tigers only managed to make it to the Cougars’ 40-yard line, but Netterville was picked off by Centreville’s Kolby Burton for the second turnover of the game. Burton was brought down at the Simpson 14-yard line with 26.1 seconds left in the half, securing the Cougars’ 14-0 lead at intermission.

After a scoreless third quarter, Simpson added another touchdown on a 9-yard run by Taylor with 8:55 left in the fourth. The Cougars missed the extra point, making it 20-0 Simpson.

Centreville’s John Marcus McDowell fights for extra yardage. (Chris Todd \ Special to the Democrat)
Centreville’s John Marcus McDowell fights for extra yardage. (Chris Todd \ Special to the Democrat)

Centreville managed its only score in the fourth, driving down the field on a 32-yard pass to Mark Curry, a 14-yard pass to Tyler Caston and a 21-yard pass to Chase Hughes that set up a 4-yard rush by Curry for the touchdown. Brock Andrus kicked the extra point, making it 20-7 with 7:31 remaining.

Hurst said Netterville played a great game as a true freshman, taking over for injured quarterback Casey Haygood late in the season.

“He did a great job,” Hurst said. “He threw some great passes and he had a lot of pressure put on him from the defense, but he stood tall and played well. For a 14-year-old, he went toe-to-toe with those guys.”

Centreville ended its season 12-2.

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