Freshly painted with Friday night's score and currently positioned in Todd Breland's office is the famous "Little Brown Jug." After a five-year winless drought in Mississippi's longest continuously-played regular-season rivalry game, Laurel earned the trophy back last Friday night at R. H. Watkins Stadium in the Little Brown Jug game. The Tornadoes edged Hattiesburg, 35-19.
"We were proud to get it back," said the Laurel head football coach. "Anytime you win the jug; it's a great feeling."
Helping to break the five-year skid was junior quarterback Xavier Evans. Evans scored four touchdowns in the win, two passing and two running, and compiled 344 yards of total offense. He passed for 233 and ran for 111 yards on just 10 carries.
“It feels good,” said Evans. “Not having [the jug] a couple of years, it feels good to have it back at Laurel.
"It was a team effort, though. I can't do it by myself. I can't throw it to myself or block for myself. It was a complete team effort."
His first touchdown, a 57-yard pass to Kiron Johnson midway through the first quarter put the Tornadoes in the driver's seat, 14-0. When Hattiesburg responded two possessions later, Evans broke off on his longest run of the contest, a 53-yard scrabble, to push Laurel's lead back to two scores.
"He's our leader," said Breland. "He's going to be our leader every week. We expect that out of him. I hope you ask me about him every week because if you are then that means he's doing something pretty good."
Evans added two more scores in the second half.
The season is still young, and in the young season comes mistakes.
"It's early in the season," Breland noted. "He, along with everyone else, has so much to work on. We still need to get better, but we're also 2-0, so that's a good position to be in."
Despite two passing touchdowns and 233 total through the air, Evans passing percentage wasn’t where he’d like it to be. It’s a point of focus for the junior QB moving forward.
"I need to work on my mechanics more," said Evans. "I had some lazy throws. Every throw counts, and I have to make them count."
"He has to be a little more patient in the pocket," Breland added. "At the same time, our receivers have to give him some help. We had some drop balls and busted assignments, but that's all part of the learning process. It's early in the season, and we'll get it all correct."
Evans is our Sports601 Powerade Player of the Week for Jasper, Jones and Smith County.
Evans and the Tornadoes face another rival this Friday night at Wayne County versus the War Eagles.