It wasn't exactly the way the Starkville Academy Volunteers wanted to close the regular season.
With the playoffs looming next week, Starkville Academy dropped a 31-14 senior-night battle with the Presbyterian Christian School Bobcats.
Running the football out of the wildcat formation, senior Colby Runnels ran the offense for the Vols at quarterback and scored both touchdowns, the first on a 1-yard quarterback sneak in the first half and the second on a 52-yard blast in the second half.
Although SA's 139 yards rushing was overshadowed by the Bobcats’ 286 yards on the ground, Runnels finished with 115 yards of his own on just 16 carries.
The Vols decided Runnels was the best option at quarterback against PCS.
“Colby did a great, great job," Starkville Academy coach Jeff Terrill said. "He’s a great leader and always has been. We didn’t play him (Drew Pellum), so it kind of handicaps us all through the game, so for him (Runnels) to step up and play like that is just tremendous.”
On the first possession of the game, the Vols recovered a fumble, but they gave it right back on a fumble.
The Bobcats wasted no time and scored on the second play of the drive on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Patterson to Lee Sigrest.
In the second quarter, PCS faked a punt on fourth and seven for a 29-yard run and a first down. Troy Waites extended the Bobcat lead with an 18-yard field goal.
Starkville Academy was then forced to punt, but the Bobcats muffed the punt. After a discussion, the officials gave PCS the football.
The Bobcats drove the ball on the ground, with Stephen Jones handling the bulk of the carries. Patterson then found Chris Addison for a 22-yard touchdown pass to put PCS up 17-0.
The Vols responded with the touchdown by Runnels and looked to be gaining momentum as they recovered an onside kick, but ended up having to re-kick due to an officials' ruling.
The Bobcats drove down the field and scored another touchdown with 29 seconds remaining in the half to go up 24-7.
Starkville Academy senior running back Zach Slaughter, who finished with 26 rushing yards on seven carries, said the team had to keep playing through the two tough calls and not worry about them.
“We were just going to come out, play and do what we do every week,” Slaughter said. “You have to play through adversity. Adversity hits, and you have to play through it, and that defines teams.”
The second half saw both teams score once, including Runnels’ 52-yard touchdown run to open up the fourth quarter.
Defensively, Stephen Robertson, Drew Harrell and Josh Crittenden led the way for the Vols. Terrill said the defense fought hard but still has room for improvement.
“We were out-manned at times,” Terrill said. “We’re playing a lot of young kids on defense, and they’re growing up and getting better every game.”
The Vols start the playoffs next weekend. Runnels is confident entering the postseason.
“We have a better chance of winning it this year than we did last year,” Runnels said. “We’re sitting right where we want to be. We can compete, and we can beat any team we will face in the playoffs, so I think we can pull it out.”