Mary G. Montgomery’s Devin Pettway (21) and Shondell Harris (18) celebrate Pettway’s 43-yard pick-six Friday night in the Vikings’ 28-7 win in Semmes. (Helen Joyce/Call News)
Mary G. Montgomery’s Troy Flowers breaks loose for some of his 127 yards rushing in Friday night’s 28-7 win over Foley in Semmes. (Helen Joyce/Call News)
By JIMMY WIGFIELD
SEMMES — Friday night marked the first time two ranked teams ever met at Grider Stadium and if what Mary G. Montgomery did to Foley is any indication, other teams in the top 10 of Class 7A may want to avoid Semmes.
The No. 8 Vikings got the fast start they wanted, the defense they needed and the finish they craved, seizing a 14-0 lead with two Jared Hollins touchdown passes in the first quarter before the crowd got comfortable and the defense forced four turnovers on the way to a 28-7 victory over No. 9 Foley.
“The way we started was big,” MGM coach Zach Golson said after his team won its ninth straight regular-season game to improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2007 and started 7A Region 1 play with a convincing victory. “We wanted to start fast and get the momentum. We played great defense and jumped on them and got them more predictable.”
The Vikings took the 14-0 first-quarter lead on Hollins’ touchdown passes of 35 yards to tight end Kaden Harrell, who jogged uncontested into the end zone, and 30 yards to receiver James Bolton, who broke open when a defender slipped on a post-corner route but still made a demanding catch and got his feet down just inside the pylon.
“I have trust in my receivers and our O-line did a great job,” Hollins said. “If I have time, the receivers can make plays.”
Lions coach Deric Scott said those receivers took advantage of coverage mistakes.
“We had two busted coverages give them the first 14 points,” Scott said. “It wasn’t something we hadn’t seen, we just didn’t get it done.”
After that, MGM’s defense — which has allowed just two touchdowns in the first three games — threw a net over Foley’s five-star receiver Perry Thompson and Kolton Nero, the state’s leading rusher.
“They’re a lot better defensively than last year,” Scott said of Mary Montgomery.
Thompson, who has committed to Auburn, was held to 11 yards on five catches and Nero, who had run for 555 yards in the first two games, had 119 on 21 carries against the Vikings but 48 came on one run in the third quarter to set up his 8-yard TD run.
“We had a lot of eyes on him,” Golson said of Thompson. “We had three guys looking at him. We knew they’d feed those two guys. I thought we were faster and more physical. That’s a great offense and to play at that level against them is something. We did a great job on those two.”
The Vikings threw the Lions into an inescapable hole late in the first half with back-to-back interceptions of quarterback Nelson Thompson.
Linebacker Devin Pettway turned the first one into a 43-yard pick-six and defensive end Anthony Cassino’s interception on the next series set up Hollins’ 2-yard TD run for a 28-0 halftime lead.
“We throw three picks and lose a fumble and you aren’t going to beat anybody with four turnovers,” Scott said. “Once we stopped the bleeding, we played well. Our guys never quit.”
With the big lead, MGM turned the offense over to running back Troy Flowers, who finished with 127 yards on 16 carries.
“The fast start was nice,” Flowers said. “The defense played out of their minds. The O-line dominated. It’s what they gave us. They didn’t want to get beat deep.”
Pettway’s two interceptions and returns represented almost as many yards (58) as the Vikings had in the second half (72).
Pettway’s 43-yard interception return for a touchdown with 1:18 to go before halftime made it 21-0 and he added a second interception in the fourth quarter.
“The first one, I could tell where (the quarterback) was going with it,” Pettway said. “I read his eyes. I got the ball and saw a lot of grass. (Safety) Shondell (Harris) told me what to watch for on both of them. I wish I could have scored on the second one but I was gassed.”
MGM had just 244 yards of total offense and Foley controlled the ball for 28:43 but that was of little concern to Golson.
“I think we played well in all three phases,” he said. “It wasn’t perfect all the time offensively. They stacked the box and we had a few drops. But our guys have worked hard and they’re seeing the fruits of their labor.”
Hollins was 7-of-13 passing for 75 yards but threw only one pass in the second half. Nelson Thompson was 15 of 29 for 73 yards and three interceptions.