FULTON - The Itawamba AHS Indians are used to scoring early and often.
The Indians took a couple of possessions to get going against the Pontotoc Warriors on Friday night, but the their defense came up big early in the game to help IAHS secure a 38-6 first-round victory in the Class 4A playoffs Friday night in Fulton.
IAHS welcomed the Pontotoc Warriors for a rematch of the Indians' 49-7 week five win.
Zion Ashby started the game off with a bang. He returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, but the score was called back for an Indian penalty.
The Indians had to punt on their first two possessions, but while the offense was struggling, the defense was flexing its muscle. Layth Holiday took an interception 15 yards to put IAHS on the board late in the first quarter. After Pontotoc brought the game to 7-3 on a field goal early in the second, the Indians were forced to punt. This time star safety Isaac Smith intercepted a Warrior pass, and his 1-yard score on the ensuing possession padded the Indians' lead.
A second Smith interception set up an Itawamba field goal to give the Indians the 17-3 lead at halftime.
In the second half, the Indians took full control of the game, outscoring the Warriors 21-3 the rest of the way. With 9:52 left in the third, junior quarterback Ty Davis connected with Ashby, who juked two Warriors defenders en route to a 37-yard touchdown to effectively put the game out of reach.
Davis was 20-of-31 passing for 272 yards and a touchdown while throwing one interception. Ashby had 114 yards receiving with a touchdown on seven receptions. Smith, Jabari Shumpert and Zach Harris added a rushing touchdown apiece.
Itawamba AHS (11-0) advances to the second round to face a familiar foe, the Senatobia Warriors (8-3). Senatobia eliminated IAHS last season in the third round in a 45-6 blowout.
Pontotoc closes its season at 4-7.