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Pilots grounded by flashy Rebels

Pilots grounded by flashy Rebels
Pilots grounded by flashy Rebels

Obion Central coach Shawn Jackson listens to officials along with Fulton County coach Deatrik Kinney among others on Saturday.
Maybe it was Mother Nature’s way of saying enough was enough.
A second stoppage of play due to what was determined to be ‘heat lightning’ cut short what was eventually declared a season-opening 35-6 victory for Obion Central over Fulton County Saturday night at Troy.
Game officials signaled the contest over after lightning was spotted in the distance and after the game had already been delayed once by a state-mandated 30 minutes for a similar occurrence early in the second period.
The second quarter had already been shortened to eight minutes — from its usual 12 — after the first interruption and an opening stanza that took an hour and five minutes to play because of 16 accepted penalties and several more that were not applied.
The early halt to the game likely was nothing more than an unofficial mercy rule application.
The Rebels scored three times before the game was four minutes old and put up 28 points in the first quarter against their undermanned Class 1A Kentucky foe.
Obion Central head coach Shawn Jackson was literally speechless afterward.
“I don’t know what to say or think about this,” the Rebel skipper said. “It was heat lightning and it never reached the ground. I guess we need to have a meteorologist on staff to determine things like this.
“At least everybody got to see our new uniforms. I don’t know that we got much else good out of it.”
LaDevin Fair, who transferred to OCCHS from Fulton County after starting two seasons there and in the aftermath of his father being hired as a paraprofessional assistant at Central, scored three touchdowns against his former team for the Rebs.
Fair had an electrifying 75-yard punt return for one of his scores — one of two special teams TDs for Obion Central.
Justin Wiles returned a kickoff 85 yards to paydirt following Fulton County’s lone touchdown to account for OC’s other kicking game tally.
Noticeable improvement in the PAT department from last year was most obvious as Nathan Ward was 5-for-5 in extra points after he made just five all of last season.
The Rebels picked off three Fulton County passes — Steven Patton, who also had a pair of sacks, — snagging two of those interceptions. Jaquis Williams also had a pick that he returned for a touchdown, but that score was wiped off due to one of Central’s many flags.
OC was penalized 11 times for 127 yards in all  and also had some issues defensively with missed tackles against an athletic Pilot bunch that seemingly drew up plays on the run.
“We won’t show our kids any of this film because I don’t feel like there’s any use in it,” Jackson added. “We didn’t even take 20 snaps on offense.
“Defensively, it’s just so hard to prepare for a lot of the stuff they did because I felt like they were improvising a lot of the time. I’ll tell you how bad it was, Sikeston’s (next week’s OC opponent) was here and we traded films with them during the first lightning break and they left. Who has ever heard of anything like that?”
Fair’s seven-yard scoring run after Patton had picked off Dillion Johnson on the game’s first snap got the Rebels on the scoreboard within the first minute of the abbreviated contest.
Up 14-0 after Fair’s endzone punt return dash, Central capitalized on Williams’ pick with a 19-yard scoring pass from Trey Phipps to Mason McGrew that made it 21-0 with 8:20 left in the opening stanza.
FC got its only tally when Johnson danced 32 yards to paydirt on a scramble to cap a long drive that was aided by a pair of major penalties on the Rebs.
Wiles bolted down the OC sideline with the ensuing kickoff, jetting the distance to ease any concern in the home stands.
Fair then capped the scoring and the county locals’ most sustained march — an eight-play, 73-yard sequence — with a 24-yard TD run on the second play of the second period.
Officials signaled for both teams to leave the field with lightning in the distance following Ward’s PAT, and upon resumption of play, it was determined the remainder of the contest would be played with eight-minute quarters and a continuously running clock.
That plan lasted only the initial eight minutes before the game was called and ruled officially over.
Obion Central will play the second of three home games to open the season — and against a much-tougher foe — when Sikeston (Mo.) visits Troy this Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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