NOXAPATER — Nobody was more dejected than East Oktibbeha head football coach Randy Brooks Friday night, following his team's 41-18 loss to homestanding Noxapater in a battle of Region 3-1A undefeated teams.
"I'm really disappointed because we didn't take care of what we were supposed to take care of," he said. "We have to just keep plugging along."
But despite the loss, Brooks said his 5-2 Titans still have a chance to do something special.
"We set out at the beginning of this season to make history by hosting a first-round playoff game," he said. "We can still do that, but it's going to take some work."
If the Titans, now 3-1 in league play, close out the regular season with four straight wins, they still stand a good chance of being one of the top two teams in the league.
"How we handle ourselves this week will have a lot to say about that," he said. "We just have to get back out there and work hard and get ready for the rest of the season."
East Oktibbeha entertains Pelahatchie next week for homecoming, before closing out the season with games against West Oktibbeha, Nanih Waiya and Weir.
"Everybody's talking about Nanih Waiya, but we can't afford to look past Pelahatchie," Brooks said. "That's the one we have to get ready for."
Noxapater took control of the game early, scoring on its first four possessions of the game to build a 28-6 halftime lead.
"I was really disappointed overall in our defense," he said. "Some of those guys have been with me for four years and sometimes tonight we acted like we couldn't tackle."
The Titans showed a little fight in the second half, but it wasn't enough as Noxapater held off East Oktibbeha to take the solid victory to move to 4-3 overall and 4-0 in league play. The Tigers are now tied with Nanih Waiya at the top of Region 3-1A.
Senior quarterback Ethan Hamilton had a big game for the Tigers, hitting on 11-of-16 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns, while Trey Baber scored on runs of 10, 17 and 4 yards for Noxapater on the way to a 19 carry, 118-yard night.
After Noxapater built a 14-0 lead on a 2-yard run by Katorris Coburn and a 37-yard pass from Hamilton to Gregory McBeath, East Oktibbeha fought back to cut it to 14-6 on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Davalyn Bell to Chris Harris on fourth and goal with 8:18 left in the first half.
That momentum was short-lived however, as Noxapater scored two touchdowns in the last five minutes of the half to take the aforementioned 28-6 lead.
East Oktibbeha's second half touchdowns came on runs of 1 and 21 yards by James Brown, who finished the night with 83 rushing yards on 13 carries. Bell hit on 12-of-24 passes for 136 yards, while Terrence Rice had three catches for 85 yards.