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Minshew, defense drive Brandon to victory


12:00 AM, Nov. 10, 2012 EST

Brandon running back Davien Tillis finds some room to run against Ocean Springs on Friday. Tillis had a game-high 132 yards rushing. / Jared Thomas/Special to The Clarion-Ledger

BRANDON — 

This wasn't how Wes Windham envisioned his high school career coming to an end.

Restricted to the sideline after suffering a gruesome jaw injury, the Ocean Springs senior quarterback -- who has been selected to the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Classic -- could only watch as an already aggressive Brandon defense ratcheted it up another notch once sophomore backup Ed Day entered the game.

Brandon registered five interceptions on the night, three of which led to touchdowns, as the Bulldogs rolled to a 35-14 in Friday night's Class 6A playoff opener at Louis Gene Strickland Field.

Windham lost a tooth and required stitches following a hit on the Greyhounds' second offensive possession and did not return. Ocean Springs coach Ray Ross said he also had five offensive linemen go down on a night when everything that could go wrong for the Greyhounds essentially did.

"We lost some key guys and we knew it would be a challenge up front anyway with all our starters," Ross said. "They were just sitting back there waiting on it."

Despite some drops as a receiver, Brandon junior Josh Stowers had little trouble reeling in the ball on defense, picking off a pair of Day passes in the first half.

Each was quickly cashed into touchdowns to help the Bulldogs take a commanding 21-0 lead into the locker room at half.

After missing on six straight pass attempts in the first half, Brandon quarterback Gardner Minshew and the Bulldog receivers found their rhythm in the second.

Minshew hit Dylan Knott in stride late in the third quarter for a 75-yard touchdown that made it 28-0 and seemed to put a bow on a second straight playoff win over the Greyhounds (6-5).

Minshew finished the night 13-of-24 passing for 224 yards and three touchdowns. Knott finished the night with two touchdowns.

"Gardner throws the ball really well, makes really good decisions and made a lot tonight," Bulldogs coach Brad Peterson said.

"We knew it was just a matter of time to find our rhythm," Minshew said. "Once we did, we were good."

It helped having Davien Tillis in the backfield.

The Bulldogs running back ran for a game-high 132 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.

Brandon (10-2) will travel to Hattiesburg on Friday.

"We're in survival mode right now," Minshew said. "We just have to take care of business one week and not worry about the next."

Ocean Springs (6-5) receiver Ishmel Morrow was a one-man show at times for the Greyhounds, hauling in eight catches for 150 yards.

 

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