The West Marion Trojans will play host to the Columbia Wildcats in the quarterfinals for the right to go to the South State Championship next Friday, Nov. 20, after both teams won their respective second-round matchups in blowout fashion Friday night.
It will be a much-anticipated rematch of the Oct. 16 matchup between the Trojans (9-2) and Wildcats (9-2), which West Marion won 7-6 in overtime to claim the Marion County Football Championship.
Despite being without their starting quarterback, Carter Smith, and losing athlete Josh Brown, who was filling in for Smith, in the first quarter, the Wildcats were able to secure a decisive 22-0 victory over Hazlehurst.
Brown actually got the scoring started for Columbia on a 3-yard touchdown run on a quarterback power, but it was the play he got hurt on. There was a roughing the kicker call on the extra point, allowing the Wildcats to then convert the two-point try to go up 8-0 with four minutes remaining in the game’s opening quarter.
After Omar Johnson was stripped and the Indians returned it to the Columbia 34, the Wildcats defense came up big with Hazlehurst threatening. On fourth-and-10, Kentrell Jackson hauled in an interception and returned it 75 yards for a pick-six that made it 14-0 early in the second quarter.
Following a Hazlehurst punt, Columbia ate six minutes of the clock with a 68-yard drive that was capped off by a Greg Fortenberry 4-yard touchdown that increased the Wildcat lead to 22-0 just before halftime. Neither team scored in the second half.
With both Smith and Brown out, Columbia turned to Jonathan Wiltz to operate the offense out of the Wildcat. There were some hiccups with a few botched snaps, but Wiltz kept the offense rolling and helped churn out yardage with his legs.
Smith, who was in concussion protocol, should be back for the West Marion game, while Brown’s prognosis remains undermined. Brown took a helmet directly to the knee on a hit that was hard enough to completely flip him (into the end zone), and he was on crutches the rest of the night.
West Marion-55 Kemper County-20
The Trojans left no doubt at East Mississippi Community College with a commanding 55-20 victory over Kemper County.
West Marion jumped out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and led 35-14 at the half and 49-14 going into the fourth quarter.
There was some doubt if Marion County Most Valuable Player Jartavious “Tater Rabbit” Martin would be able to play after suffering a knee injury last week against Crystal Springs, but he was able to give it a go and showed no ill effects.
West Marion will play host to the Wildcats Friday at 7 p.m. The winner will play either Raleigh (8-3) or Magee (9-0) in the South State title game. Raleigh beat Forest 50-28, and Magee beat Morton 27-10 Friday.
Buckle up football fans.