SOUTHAVEN – For the first time in the 2010 season, Starkville entered the stadium with a distinct talent and confidence advantage over its opponent.
Friday night’s performance highlighted those two facts early and often in the Yellowjackets’ 38-16 blowout victory over DeSoto Central.
The Yellowjackets rolled up 299 total yards to ruin the Jaguars Homecoming celebration during an evening in which the SHS offense wasn’t forced to punt until the final quarter.
“I think we played our JV team throughout the whole second half,” Starkville High School head coach Jamie Mitchell said. “What I wanted to accomplish tonight was to get the victory and just get out healthy and we did that.”
It took Starkville (3-2, 1-0 in region play) only 67 seconds to put a dent on the scoreboard as Martavious Foster took a slant route from SHS quarterback Jaquez Johnson and broke two tackles before being escorted to the end zone 87 yards later by two Yellowjackets teammates.
DeSoto Central, who have now been outscored 176-35 through five games of the 2010 season, responded to an early deficit by fumbling a spread option handoff on back-to-back plays. Both Jaguars quarterbacks failed to execute the running play out of the shotgun and the Yellowjackets managed to turn both of the turnover opportunities into touchdowns created by Johnson.
The first score after the turnover came on a 4-yard quarterback draw play and the senior walked into the end zone untouched and less than two minutes later Johnson found a wide-open Shaquille Hill for a 20-yard pitch-and-catch.
Johnson finished with 163 total yards (3-for-5 passing for 143 yards) in only a quarter and a half of work.
“My major concern going into next week is now we’ve got guys that haven’t gotten those quality reps by being off last week before playing tonight,” Mitchell said.
DeSoto Central (0-5, 0-1) ended the night with seven fumbles with three lost and 30 total yards before halftime. The Jaguars had trouble keeping possession throughout the game as they ended with five turnovers.
The loudest cheer of the first half among the capacity crowd at DeSoto Central was on a converted 37-yard field goal for the Jaguars to make the score 21-3.
However, Starkville took only three plays and less than a minutes of clock time to answer on a 30-yard run by Garrett Smith where the senior ripped through the DeSoto Central defensive front to go untouched to the end zone.
Starkville kicker Daniel Fumo not only connected perfectly on all five extra point attempts but drilled a 37-yard field goal to give the Yellowjackets a 38-3 halftime lead.
DeSoto Central’s offense finally found the end zone when sophomore quarterback Clay Fortin was able to scamper 44 yards for a touchdown on a drive where three consecutive SHS penalties in a fourth-down situation gave the Jaguars a legit chance to continue the drive. Fortin led the Desoto Central offense to the final score of the game in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard touchdown plunge to cut the losing deficit to 22.
The only negative teaching point for the SHS coaching staff would be the 23 total penalties for Starkville that mostly came while the first-sting offense and defense were on the field. The Yellow Jackets had more penalty yardage (140) than DeSoto Central had in total offense (89) thru three quarter of play.
“There’s just no doubt about the fact that we’ve got to get that taken care of,” Mitchell said. “No way can we do that against better teams in our region.”
Starkville will hope to make it two straight region victories in a row when they host Tupelo next week.