Led by the outstanding play of C.J. Johnson, French Camp put it all together for a 33-12 victory over West Lowndes.
“It's probably the best game we have played in three or four years,” said coach Nathan Wright. “It has been a long time coming. I'm very pleased.”
Johnson led the Panthers on both sides of the ball. “He played really, really well,” Wright said.
At quarterback, Johnson accounted for all five French Camp touchdowns with four runs and a 19-yard pass to Darrion Smith. He had 27 carries for 200 yards and completed three of five passes for 51 yards. As a defensive back, Johnson had two interceptions and five tackles.
He was one of nine players cited by the Clarion-Ledger as the state's top performers.
Silas Hodge contributed 11 carries for 54 yards. “He complemented C.J. pretty well,” Wright said.
The game was tied 6-6 at the half. After Johnson put the Panthers ahead with an 8-yard run, West Lowndes tied the score following a blocked punt.
French Camp dominated the second half with four TDs. “The (offensive) line did well once they amped up their physicality in the second half,” Wright said.
The defense did its part. “We really had a great game defensively.”
Linebacker Landon Rushing led the team in tackles with 10 and linemen Logan Campbell, Ethan Wright and Christian Howell all played well.
French Camp is 2-3 overall and 2-2 in Region 2-1A. The Panthers have a road game Friday with Noxapater.
After coming within a missed two-point conversion of reaching the state championship game a year ago, Noxapater is struggling this season. The Tigers allowed 157 points in losses to Sebastopol, Tupelo Christian and Nanih Waiya.
“They do seem to be struggling a bit and I'm not sure why,” Wright said. “Offensively, they may be lacking some linemen they have had in the past. That always makes things a lot more difficult. But they are Noxapater. They still have athletes who can hurt you.”
One of those athletes is junior quarterback K.D. Carter. “He's still a threat to score at any moment,” Weight said.
A coaching change might be a factor in Noxapater's struggles. “Sometimes it's difficult for players to make that adjustment,” Wright said.
French Camp has already played the region's top two teams with losses to two-time defending state champion Nanih Waiya and Tupelo Christian. After Noxapater, the Panthers have region games with Hamilton, Vardaman and Smithville.
“I'd like to win out and finish third. That would be great,” Wright said.