Starkville quarterback Gabe Myles (5) gets taken down by the Noxubee County defense. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
Starkville High School football coach Jamie Mitchell knew his team was going to have to score points to defeat the Noxubee County Tigers Friday night.
Eight was not enough.
The Yellowjackets were dominated on both sides of the football in their home stadium and lost a 29-8 decision to open the season.
"Absolutely, no excuses," Mitchell said. "They lined up and whipped our rear end. They were clearly the better football team. We've been playing those guys every year and I don 't know if we will play a better defense than that. I hope not."
Noxubee County generated 320 yards of total offense with its biggest weapon being Darrell Robinson, who had 20 carries for 194 yards rushing.
Starkville struggled on offense with only 81 yards and 6 of those were passing.
Jacket quarterback Gabe Myles, who was chased constantly by the Tigers, was credited with the passing yards and had no yards on the ground on 19 carries.
"There was nothing we could do offensively," Mitchell said. "We couldn't protect him and couldn't run the football. That's about as frustrated as I've been in a long time calling plays. There was absolutely nowhere to go with the ball. They just smothered us."
Noxubee County defensive end Dylan Bradley knew his team was going to have to come up with a strong plan because of Starkville's reputation in the Class 5A ranks.
"We wanted to put the best in front of us the first game," Bradley said. "Starkville is the best, No. 1 in 5A and they may win 5A. Coming into this game, we expected a hard-hitting game and ground and pound."
The Tigers struck on their second offensive possession of the game when Robinson broke a 61-yard run for a touchdown. The run for two points failed and Noxubee County jumped out to a 6-0 lead with 11:32 left in the first quarter.
After linebacker David Fair of the Jackets tackled DeAngelo Ballard of the Tigers for a safety at the 6:48 mark of the first quarter, Noxubee County's offense put up more points in the second quarter when Ballard tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Bradley and also completed the two-point conversion pass to Javancy Jones.
With 8:57 remaining in the second quarter, the Tigers had increased their advantage to 14-2.
The only two first downs for SHS that didn't come by way of a penalty in the first half was on the final offensive drive. Jaquez Horsley had a 17-yard run and Stanley Higgins ran for 13 yards.
That was not nearly enough production as the Jackets trailed 14-2 at halftime.
After Preston Baker's 1-yard touchdown run got SHS to within 14-8 in the third quarter, Noxubee County responded with a 3-yard scoring run by Javoris Glenn in the third quarter and a 17-yard touchdown by Robinson in the fourth.
"For them to do what they did to our defense was just mind-boggling," Mitchell said. "We didn't play good defense and they just shredded us. Nothing but credit to those guys because they did a phenomenal job."
The Jackets travel to play the Madison Central Jaguars next Friday. The kickoff has a special time of 7:06 p.m. for a Comcast regional television broadcast.
"We've got to get better and we will get better," Mitchell said. "Next week, we will line up against Madison Central and see what happens."
Prior to the game against Noxubee County, the number of the late SHS player Devin Mitchell was retired by school officials and his jersey was given to the family. There was also a moment of silence in his memory.
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