Southern Lab quarterback Deonte Shorts, receiver Marquise Ricard and tight end Kameryon Brown were at their best in the final minute of the first half Thursday night, with the trio producing a pair of pivotal touchdowns in a 25-8 victory over Cohen High.
In a wild final 37 seconds, Shorts found Ricard twice for touchdowns - threaded around Cohen’s only score - to give Lab (2-0) a 19-8 halftime lead.
Here’s how the synergy worked.
First, working the two-minute offense, Shorts and Brown hooked up for a 10-yard pass, with Shorts then getting all the time he needed to lace his first touchdown pass, a beautifully thrown, 34-yard slant route to Ricard, who sprinted into the end zone untouched, with 37 seconds left until halftime.
Then, after Cohen’s only score - on a 25-yard touchdown pass - to get within 13-8 with 18 seconds before halftime, Maurice Aucoin’s 18-yard kickoff return set up two final plays, enough for more magic from the trio.
This time, Shorts and Brown worked an out route for a 25-yard gain and Shorts lobbed a pass into the corner of the end zone for Ricard, good for a 21-yard TD as time expired for a 19-8 halftime lead.
“We had a few things that went well for us,” Lab coach Nick Mitchell said. “There were some spots where we looked really sloppy, and those are the things we have to correct.”
Shorts finished 9 of 15 for 150 yards and the two touchdowns and two interceptions at A.W. Mumford Stadium.
“He’s in a maturity process right now,” Mitchell said. “He’s making better reads.”
Shorts’ top targets were, of course, Ricard and Brown, who combined for seven catches, 131 yards and two touchdowns.
Aucoin, meanwhile, rushed for 51 yards and two touchdowns - a 5-yard score in the second quarter to give Lab a 6-0 lead and a 6-yarder in the fourth that closed the scoring.
Lab has outscored its two opponents 59-8 to open its season.
“I think having a two-game winning streak after what happened in the jamboree (a 38-0 loss to Class 5A Scotlandville) gives us confidence, and it also gives us a chance to look at some things on film and be able to correct them going into next week’s game,” Mitchell said.
Lab, which averaged more than 9 yards per play, scored on its final possession, Aucoin’s a 6-yard touchdown. That score capped a 72-yard drive, with the Kittens getting to the Green Hornets’ 10-yard line after three straight 5-yard penalties on the Cohen defense.
“Too many mistakes on or part,” Cohen coach Robert Welch said. “One of the things we’ve got to learn is to put it in the end zone.”
When both teams returned after halftime, Cohen’s defense intercepted Shorts on the first play of the quarter, their second of the game. Still, the Green Hornets, who totaled 131 yards to Lab’s 263, never scored in the second half.
Cohen (0-1) was playing its first game of the season.
“If we cut down on some of the mistakes, it might have been a different ballgame,” Welch said.