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Key Takeaways From Choctaw Win Over Shorter
A dominant game by the offensive line and run game elevate the Choctaws to 2-1 in GSC play and 3-3 overall.
The Hawks of Shorter University came into Clinton at 2-3 and following a three-game losing streak, looking to win their first Gulf South Conference game of the season. However, Mississippi College was instead able to come away with its second conference win in a row. In a game where the Choctaw triple-option offense was utterly dominant, they sent the Hawks packing, winning 35-21.
Offensive line dominance
Throughout the contest, the Choctaw offensive line had no trouble countering the Shorter defense. This led to a dangerous rushing attack as Choctaw blockers repeatedly opened huge holes for their backs. The first half was particularly dominant as the Choctaws rushed for 300 yards, repeatedly finding room to the outside for big gains.
“Coach Laurendine prepared them really well, but they had to execute,” said head coach John Bland. “We didn’t see many negative plays, just a great game plan by Coach Laurendine and great execution by the o-line.”
As a result of their great execution, the Choctaws ended up giving up just one sack and gaining a total of 527 yards on the ground. Multiple Choctaw backs had excellent days contributing to that total, led by freshman quarterback John Henry White, who had 279 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 35 carries. Ron Craten was the only other back with over 100 yards, as he had 105 yards and two touchdowns himself on just six carries. In his return as the team’s primary fullback, Cole Fagan had 12 carries and picked up 71 yards. Marcus Williams picked up 38 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, and also contributed to the blocking dominance with a pair of huge blocks on the outside.
Clutch plays from defense
The defense gave up 21 points on a great day through the air by Shorter quarterback Aeneas Dennis, who accounted for all three touchdowns and 258 yards on a day where he went 14-for-23. However, they came up with stops when they needed them most. Following a Craten fumble early in the fourth quarter, Shorter drove all the way to the Choctaw 21-yard line. However, the Choctaw defense buckled down and got the stop, powered by a third-down sack by Zach Hammann. They then had great coverage on fourth down, forcing a short scramble by Dennis who failed to pick up the first down.
“They did good,” said Bland. “They got a big stop at the very end when we needed it. Every stop is important.”
The Mississippi College run defense flexed its muscle as well, as they did not allow a single Shorter back to gain 50 yards on the day. The Hawks were led by Justus Durrant, who picked up just 46 yards on ten carries.
Tough GSC schedule
Coming off two big wins, the Choctaws have some much-needed momentum as they are heading into the heart of their Gulf South Conference schedule with a 2-1 conference record. Next week, they will travel to Valdosta, Ga., for a 2:00 p.m. matchup with the 3-3 Valdosta State Blazers. While the Blazers are in the midst of a down year, Bland is not taking this matchup lightly.
“That is a great traditional team, they’re really good. We will have to play extremely well down in Valdosta and really prepare for that bunch,” said Bland.
After that matchup, three of the Choctaws' next four games will be against ranked opponents. They will face tenth-ranked West Florida twice, and between those two games will see an undefeated Delta State team and their only unranked opponent, a 4-2 West Alabama team that features wins over Valdosta State and Miles College.