SENATOBIA – The Starkville Academy Volunteers saw a tremendous rally come up short in the fourth quarter and couldn't hold off the Magnolia Heights Chiefs in a 40-28 loss on Friday night.
With the loss, Starkville Academy's season came to an end with a final record of 5-7.
After losing to East Rankin Academy on Oct. 19, the Vols were forced to travel for the opening round of the Class AAA-District 2, Division II playoffs.
Magnolia Heights jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Volunteers took advantage of a Kirby Cox interception in the first quarter to get their only score of the first half. SA scored the touchdown on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Drew Pellum with 8:58 remaining in the second quarter. With Johnathon Burton's PAT, the Vols cut the margin to 13-7 in the second quarter.
Magnolia Heights came right back to extend the lead back to 13 points after a 97-yard kickoff return by Fernando VanHook for the score.
The homestanding Chiefs scored again in the third quarter to go up 26-7.
Starkville Academy hit a big play in the passing game in the fourth quarter when Pellum threw a 81-yard pass to Hunter Bolin for the touchdown. Burton's extra-point kick closed the score to 26-14.
With 5:27 left in the game, Pellum and Bolin hooked up again for an 18-yard pass on SA's next offensive possession and Burton's PAT brought the score to 26-21.
A pair of VanHook touchdown runs gave Magnolia Heights the cushion it needed to win the game, but the Vols had one more score themselves before the completion.
Colby Runnels caught a 13-yard pass from Pellum and was fighting for yardage, when he saw Pellum and pitched him the football. Pellum ran the final 40 yards for a touchdown on the last play of the game.
Starkville Academy's offense accounted for 191 yards passing and 101 yards rushing for 292 yards of total offense.
Pellum was responsible for all of the passing yards by completing 7-of-12 attempts and he added 65 yards on the ground. Bolin had four catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, the Vols were led by Zach Slaughter, Lane McClendon and Josh Crittenden.
It was the final game for seniors Pellum, Burton, Bolin, Runnels, Slaughter, McClendon, Austin Miles, Campbell Dobbs, Stephen Robertson, Cole Phelps, Rivers Robinson and Johnny Wyman.