Behind a stellar quarterback performance, a quick strike offense and opportunistic defense, the Greenville Christian Saints dominated the Winona Christian Stars 50-7 in the third round of the MAIS 3A high school football playoffs Friday night.
The win gives the Saints a slot in next week’s state championship game at Jackson Academy against Carroll Academy.
The Saints wasted little time putting distance between themselves and their talented opponents.
On their first offensive possession, Greenville Christian attempted an unsuccessful deep pass and quickly adjusted to dinks and dunks to receivers and backs effectively moving the chains.
Four plays into game, Saints junior running back Marlon Palmer bulled through the Stars line for a five-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion staked the Saints to an early 8-0 lead.
The Stars returned the kickoff on the ensuing play past midfield and appeared poised to answer the Saints’ scoring drive with one on their own.
The Stars offense moved the ball all the way down to the goal line when GCS defensive back Kerrick Ross intercepted a (Stars freshman quarterback) John White pass and appeared to make a 99-yard pick six out of it. A penalty brought the ball back to the Saints 10-yard line. On the next play, GCS junior quarterback DJ Smith faked a handoff and scampered 90 yards up the Winona Christian sideline for a touchdown. The extra point failed and the Saints had a 14-0 advantage at the 4:46 mark of the first quarter.
Smith was in the middle of the action on the Saints final two scores of the first stanza. He called his own number for a five yard touchdown run at the 2:04 mark of the first quarter and floated a beautiful 85-yard scoring pass to Daylin Metcalf as the first quarter horn sounded. The Saint had a commanding 30-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
“Smith was super man tonight,” said Saints head coach Jon Reed McLendon. “He and the run game got our offense going and he really demonstrated the command he has of the quarterback position”.
On a broken play at the 9:33 mark of the second quarter, Smith scrambled around in the backfield, eluded a couple of defenders and linked up with Metcalf again on a 41-yard throw and catch for a score. The extra point failed and GCS led 36-0. On GCS’s Smith found Palmer on a middle screen for a 58-yard TD reception . The extra point failed and the Saints took a 42-0 lead into the intermission.
Smith continued his aerial assault in the second half with a 62- yard dime to junior receiver Will Riley who juggled the ball as he back peddled and finally corralled the pig skin. The two point conversion gave the home team a 50-0 lead heading into the final quarter.
Stars return man Dalton Wiggins outraced the Saints on the opening kickoff of the fourth quarter to account for the visitors’ only points. The extra point made the score 50-7 with 9:35 remaining in the game.
The Saints had a fumble recovery, another interception and several bone jarring hits from senior free safety Eric Kingdom.
“The defense is coming along very well,” McLendon said. “We bent a couple of times tonight but didn’t break.”