Starkville's Preston Baker (2) follows the block of teammate Darius Grayer to gain yardage Friday night against Saltillo. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
The Starkville Yellowjackets got their tremendous trio of seniors in the backfield going on Friday night to secure a first round playoff win in Class 5A.
With quarterback Gabe Myles, tailback Preston Baker and fullback Stanley Higgins leading the way, Starkville was able to defeat the Saltillo Tigers at home 45-7.
"We know this is our last year and we're trying to get back to where we were last year," Higgins said. "We know we've got good talent on the field, so we're using it."
Higgins caught two touchdown passes from Myles, while Baker scored twice on the ground and Myles also had a scoring run.
Baker finished with 141 yards on 13 carries to lead the Jacket rushing attack.
SHS coach Jamie Mitchell was glad to see the offense click after a couple of weeks when things weren't as smooth as it needed to be.
"Offensively, we finally got some things going (Friday night) and thought we played better up front and Baker has a big night for us," Mitchell said. "I thought we did what we had to do and were really efficient on the ground. We were able to keep moving the sticks and never really got behind the chains much."
It didn't take the Jackets long to score the first points of the game as Baker capped a six-play, 59-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run.
After Starkville forced a three-and-out against Saltillo, it only took three plays to go up 14-0. Myles broke loose on a 45-yard scoring run at the 6:56 mark of the first quarter.
The Jacket defense held the Tigers once again to just three plays and got the football back for the offense. Baker scored his second touchdown of the first quarter with a 24-yard run. SHS held a 21-0 lead with 2:22 remaining in the first quarter.
Baker didn't look like a player who is still bothered a little bit by the severe sprained ankle suffered against West Point back on Sept. 7.
"I'm at 95 percent and close to 100, but the line did a great job (Friday) night," Baker said. "I'm just speechless right now."
Three more points were put up by the Jackets before the end of the first quarter on a 35-yard field goal by Taylor Wise.
In the second quarter, the two teams traded passing touchdowns.
Saltillo connected with a 29-yard pass from Andrew Soper to Gage Fidram for its first points of the night, then Myles found Higgins for a 17-yard scoring toss with 5:59 left in the second quarter to take a 31-7 lead at halftime.
Starkville got two more touchdowns in the second half as Myles threw a 75-yard pass to Higgins in the third quarter and Matt Fuller scored from 1 yard out in the fourth quarter.
Myles was responsible for 244 yards of total offense for the Jackets. He completed 8-of-13 passes for 166 yards and added 78 yards rushing on 11 carries.
Higgins caught four passes for 132 yards. His 75-yard reception was the longest of the season for SHS.
Soper had 148 yards on the ground for the Tigers.
Starkville improved its record this season to 9-3 and advance to host Oxford next Friday. The Chargers defeated Provine 27-14 on Friday.
Mitchell is anxious to get the Jackets on the field for another week of preparation for a difficult opponent.
" We've still got a few guys we need to get 100 percent healthy," Mitchell said. "(Defensive lineman) Jawon Johnson did not play (Friday) and we've still got some work to do, but it sets up a big one next week."
View more articles in: