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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Choctaws slip and slide past Wildcats for 7-6 victory

Monday, October 8, 2012

Members of the Choctaw defense, James Bennett (79), Ky Wilson (15) and Hunter Stover (45) swarm Bolton quarterback Kyle Granderson during the 7-6 victory.
ARLINGTON -- During the week of practice leading up to Friday night's road contest against Bolton, Dyer County took some extra time to work on kicking extra points.

Against the Wildcats, that extra work came into play in the third quarter and basically lifted the Choctaws to a 7-6 non-district road win.

The contest, played under less-than-desirable conditions due to downpours as well as a one-hour lightning delay, was one the Choctaws desperately needed to maintain any hope of reaching the state playoffs alive.

"This was a huge game for us, it really was," said DC skipper Barry Kendall. "In a weather game like we played, it wasn't pretty but the most important thing is getting the win and we were able to do that."

The final stats of the contest were evidence of just how sloppy the field conditions were after the delay.

The Choctaws ended the game with just three first downs and 50 yards rushing, while DC quarterback Tucker Cozort was 9-for-20 for 88 yards and one touchdown.

It was clear from the outset that the game wasn't going to be an offensive shootout. Instead it came down to which team wanted it more and was willing to stand and deliver defensively. The Choctaws proved to be up for the task, time after time standing their ground against the running attack of the Wildcats, despite giving up an early touchdown.

The big play of the first half came from the Wildcats with the game scoreless in the first quarter. Running back Greg Williams took the handoff and sprinted left and past the Choctaw defense down to the 12-yard line with 5:52 to play in the quarter.

Three plays later, Wildcat quarterback Kyle Granderson scored on a sneak up the middle from 1-yard out. Without a kicker, Bolton went for the 2-point conversion, a decision the Choctaw defense was ready for, evident when Williams was stopped well short.

The 6-0 lead held until a lightning delay with 10:18 left in the half. Once play resumed, neither squad was able to move the ball before the half. Kendall said the message at the half was fundamentally simple.

"Offensively we needed to take care of the football and defensively we needed to give the ball back to the offense with good field position," said Kendall. "We kind of got after the defensive line to get more physical out there and I thought they really responded."

Though the Choctaws failed to move the ball on their opening offensive series, the second try turned out to be the game-winner.

Facing third and 11 at their own 45-yard line, DC quarterback Tucker Cozort connected with teammate Matthew Pease over the middle and the fleet-footed Pease did the rest by sprinting his way to pay dirt.

The 55-yard scamper set up the all-important extra point, one that DC kicker Colin Dietrich split the uprights on for a 7-6 advantage. The lone DC score was all the scoring in the second half as DC improved to 4-4 overall.

The Wildcats had one last chance to win the contest late in the fourth quarter. The final chance was negated however when DC's John McDonald chased down Bolton's Granderson on fourth down in DC territory.

After eight straight games, the Choctaws will enjoy a bye week before ending the season with back-to-back home games against Trezevant and Brighton, respectfully.

"Without this win we probably don't make the playoffs, so we certainly had motivation to win the game," added Kendall. "I'm proud of our kids for stepping up and continuing to believe in what we're doing."

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