Seemingly knocked off kilter by McMain and its quarterback, Darnell Williams, in the first half, Helen Cox played with more intensity in the second half, scoring all of its points in a 22-18 victory on Saturday night at Hoss Memtsas Stadium.
The win put the Cougars at 2-0 for the first time since 2006. Heading into next week’s game against Carver, Cox has a chance to be 3-0 for the first time in its 10-year history under coach Willie Brooks.
“We were lethargic,” Brooks said. “We had to get going offensively, and our defense put us in good field position in the second half.”
Trailing 12-0, receiver Rejean Wright energized the Cougars by returning the second-half kickoff to the 40, and catching a 21-yard pass to McMain’s 9 on third-and-10. On the next play, Jomaine Coleman ran up the middle for the touchdown just 1 minute, 40 seconds into the third quarter.
Linebacker Byron Jenkins blocked a punt by the Mustangs’ Jacobi Rhodes at the 6:48 mark, setting up an 8-yard scoring run by Jamy’es Davis. Dwight Dorsey’s second extra point gave Cox a 14-12 lead.
McMain came back behind Williams, who guided the Mustangs 59 yards for his second 1-yard sneak touchdown of the game and an 18-14 lead at 9:41 of the fourth. However, Williams, whose curl-route passes kept McMain’s hopes alive in the second half, was picked off by Cox’s Marcell Hall, who returned the ball 48 yards to the McMain 32 with four minutes remaining.
Six plays later, Coleman scored on a 3-yard run, then ran in for the two-point conversion for the final margin.
“We have to learn to play four quarters,” said McMain coach Kevin Rousell, whose team is 0-2. “That’s the second straight week.”
McMain got to the Cox 24 with 32 seconds left, but Davis, who also played a key role as a Wildcat quarterback, came into the game at defensive end and sacked Williams. A final pass fell incomplete.
The Mustangs took a 12-0 halftime lead behind the scrambling of Williams and an odd penalty against Cox that proved to be costly.
With McMain facing fourth-and-5 at the Cougars’ 29, Williams scrambled 9 yards for a first down. Four plays later, he found running back Nicholas McCaskill along on the left sideline for a 22-yard touchdown pass at 8:47 of the first quarter.
Cox’s defense began to contain Williams, forcing him to stay in the pocket and beat them passing rather than running. However, with 2:08 before halftime, Williams scrambled 4 yards to the Cox 42, a play on which a 10-yard penalty was assessed against the Cougars’ defense for an illegal chop block.
On the next play, Williams passed down the middle to receiver Jamairyn Wallace, who went high to make the grab at the 2-yard line. Two plays later, Williams sneaked in from the 1.
The Mustangs held the Cougars to 53 yards in the first half, including 17 rushing. McMain, meanwhile, had 142 yards total offense, including 51 rushing by Williams and 54 yards on 4-of-12 passing.