By JUSTIN AMMON
For Starkville Daily News
For the second straight week, Starkville kicker Charlie Henderson’s leg proved pivotal in securing a victory, as the Yellowjackets once again edged its opponent by three points or less.
“Special teams. We work so hard at it.” Starkville High head coach Jamie Mitchell said. “We got a sophomore kicker who’s made two field goals and got two wins. That’s huge for us. I’m proud of him.”
In a grinding, defensive struggle where neither squad reached the 150-yard mark, Starkville squeaked by Tupelo 10-7 at Yellowjacket Stadium Friday night.
Neither team was able to find the end zone in the first half, as the Golden Wave quelled the Jackets only opportunity by forcing a fumble on the 2-yard line with 17 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
“The turnover was a killer,” Mitchell said. “You just can predict what’s going to happen out there. We should have been up seven at the half.”
Starkville High quarterback Gabe Myles threw for 98 yards and one touchdown completing 11 of his 22 attempts. Myle’s touchdown throw proved to be the only time Starkville found the end zone, stemming from a 28-yard screen pass to running back Preston Baker with 1:38 left in the third quarter.
The Jackets compiled 145 total yards, rushing for only 47. The Golden Wave held Baker to three yards on six carries. However, Starkville’s defense was even more smothering. Tupelo barely cracked the century mark, gaining 101 yards.
If Tupelo quarterback Luke Hobson did not slip by Jacket defenders late in the fourth quarter on a 35-yard scramble, the Golden Wave would have earned 0 rushing yards.
“Defensively, we played lights out,” Mitchell said. “We’ve been in so many tight games and our kids have grown accustomed to that. They know they have to play 48 minutes of football and they love it.”
Down 10-0 in the fourth quarter, Hobson threw an interception in the end zone to Starkville defensive back Andrew Brown who returned the ball close to midfield. However, the play was called back for pass interference and Tupelo punched the ball in the next play to cut Starkville’s lead to three. Tupelo had a chance to even the contest with a 38-yard field goal with 3 minutes remaining, but Devin Mitchell swooped in for the block to end the threat.
“It came down to want,” Myles said. “I guess we wanted it more tonight.”
Starkville travels to rival West Point next Friday for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.