OXFORD — Defense wins championships.
Jefferson Davis County used that cliche to near perfection.
Behind a fierce defense and that always potent rushing attack the Jaguars ran past Yazoo County 36-7 to claim the MHSAA Class 3A state championship at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
In the schools first year of existence it is Jefferson Davis County’s (the consolidation of Bassfield and Prentiss) first state title in school history.
“All of this credit goes to these young men. This is a very resilient group and I am just blessed to be apart of it,” said Jefferson Davis County coach Lance Mancuso, who guided Bassfield to five Class 2A state titles. “Our defense has been the back bone of this team all year.”
The Jaguar defense held Yazoo County to just 64 yards of total offense, including 40 yards rushing and sacked quarterback Kenny Gainwell four times.
The Panthers were averaging 297 yards per game rushing coming into the game.
“All year we’ve put our defense in bad situations and they are just relentless and today I think a lot of people saw what our defense is capable of,” Mancuso said. “They are the reason why we are here.”
Running back Kyser Booth had 106 yards on 12 carries and scored three total touchdowns to lead the Jaguars (15-1). His two rushing touchdowns came from 19 yards out with 4 seconds left in the third quarter and 17 yards out with 8:09 left in the fourth quarter.
His first touchdown came on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Lyric Hall to tie the game up at 7 with 2:15 left in the first quarter.
“I just felt like I had make to the big step today,” Booth said. “At the beginning of the year we were struggling and after the East Central we found out what type of team we were and started winning.”
Quarterback Lyric Hall had 41 yards passing with two touchdowns. His first won to Booth and his second from 14 yards out to Jafharis McKines.
“We work on passing the ball the first hour and a half of practice everyday. We got receivers that can go get it and how explosive our offense can be,” Mancuso said. “This one is for the people of Jefferson Davis County.”
Devarrio Sanders had a 66-yard kickoff return for a touchdown for Yazoo County. Quarterback and Memphis commit Kenny Gainwell was held to 25 yards passing for the Panthers (14-1).