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Brandon's Back: No. 1 Bulldogs get revenge on Madison Central with 28-7 win

Nate Blount went for 273 yards and two touchdowns against the reigning MHSAA 6A Champs

BRANDON — It had been a long eight months for the top-ranked Brandon Bulldogs going into Friday’s showdown with No. 2 Madison Central.

The Bulldogs’ 24-17 loss to the Jaguars in the 2021 6A State Championship at M.M. Roberts Stadium lit a fire under Brandon. When the two teams met in Friday’s Week 2 rematch, the Bulldogs didn’t miss.

Brandon erased a 7-0, second-quarter deficit to beat the defending champs 28-7 in a game that really wasn’t that close.

“That loss last year really hurt these kids,” Bulldog coach Sam Williams said. “But it did something to them. They’ve had this game marked. It was hard to stay focused to get here. But we made it, we took care of business tonight, and we roll on to the next one.”

As lop-sided as the score became, it was neck-a-neck for much of the first half. Brandon’s first three offensive possessions ended in a turnover on downs, a partially blocked punt and a tip-drill interception by Madison Central’s Marquis Williams.

But the Brandon defense answered the call each time, and held Madison Central off of the board until the Jags’ second possession of the second quarter. That’s when Vic Sutton found Jake Norris on a wheel route down the sideline and hit him in stride for a 27-yard touchdown pass to give Big Blue the 7-0 lead.

Things went south for the Jags after that.

Brandon responded with a seven-play, 78-yard touchdown drive thanks to a 39-yard touchdown run by sensational junior Nate Blount.

Blount, who missed the State Championship with a broken collarbone last season, made up for lost time. He had 104 yards on 12 carries and the touchdown in the first half, and finished with 273 yards and two touchdowns.

“He wanted to be out there with us last year, and that’s what makes this so special,” Williams said. “He put a lot of that on himself, and he there wasn’t anything he could do about it. We did everything we could to get him healthy enough to go and it wasn’t his fault at all.”

The Bulldogs pulled ahead with their final possession of the half, driving 68 yards in nine plays in the two-minute drill. Quarterback Landon Varnes completed six of his seven passes on the drive, including the four-yard touchdown pass to Quincy Phillips, Jr. to give the Bulldogs the 14-7 lead going into halftime.

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It was just a one-possession game, but when the dust settled on the first half, the Bulldogs had out-gained the Jaguars 328 to 120.

Brandon scored another touchdown with 2:01 left in the third quarter on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Varnes to Lester Miller.

Blount capped the scoring with a four-yard run with 5:48 left in the game. Myde Thurman iced the game with a late interception.

It was just an off-night for Madison Central’s offense. Tailback Deandre Pullen was in and out with injuries, as was stellar wideout Isaiah Spencer. It didn't help that the Bulldogs stayed after Jaguar quarterback Vic Sutton, sacking him four times and grabbing two interceptions.

Two of those sacks belonged to linebacker Jake McCay, who said the defense played Friday night, as it always does, with a chip on its shoulder.

“What we preached all week was stay outside, stay outside,” McCay said. “They love to go to that bootleg, so that’s what I did. I just played it to the outside. A lot of their run plays went up the middle, but when it came out there, it paid off.”

The loss snapped a 10-game winning streak for Madison Central (1-1).

“We’re better than we showed tonight,” Jags coach Toby Collums said. “I feel like I didn’t get our guys ready to play, because we did some things that were uncharacteristic tonight. We had 15-yard penalties, turnovers, and we kind of lost ourselves at the end of the game.”

Collums and the Jaguars will get a chance to get back in the win column next week against another Rankin County rival, the Northwest Rankin Cougars (0-2).

For the top-ranked Bulldogs, their attention turns to their first road game of the season at Clinton (1-1), which beat NWR 35-14 Friday.

“I told the guys - don’t make this your biggest point of the year,” Williams said. “The monkey’s off our back, now let’s just go play ball and win some games.”