CATEGORY: FOL High School Football
ERRORS STING GOLDEN WAVE
By Bobby Pepper
The Tupelo Golden Wave was rolling along with the lead against Starkville Friday night that is until the wheels came off in the third quarter.
A pair of Wave turnovers set up two Starkville touchdowns late in the third, allowing the Yellowjackets to beat Tupelo 21-10 in a Region 1-5A game at the THS stadium. It was Tupelo's first loss of the season.
"We gave them two scoring opportunities and they took advantage of them," Tupelo head coach Johnny Hill said. "Our mistakes hurt us."
Both Tupelo and Starkville are 5-1 overall and 1-1 in 1-5A.
An interception and then a recovered kickoff by the Jackets at the Tupelo 3 led to a pair of 1-yard dive runs by Henry Vaughn, a 270-pound fullback in Starkville's goal-line offense.
Tupelo was ahead 10-7 when a Luke McAlpin pass deep in Tupelo territory was picked off by Freddie Milons, playing free safety, at midfield and returned it to the Wave 40.
Milons, the Jackets' quarterback, broke a 28-yard run to keep the drive going. Four plays later, Vaughn barrelled over from the 1 for his first TD with 1 minute, 51 seconds left.
On the ensuing kickoff, Tupelo return man Kelly Shumpert watched the ball hit inside the 5 and roll toward the end zone, but it stopped at the 1. With the ball live, both teams scrambled for it but Starkville's Lamprey Wilson came up with it at the Wave 3.
Three plays later, Vaughn got his second touchdown with 29 seconds left. With Neil Couvillion's PAT kick, Starkville was ahead 21-10.
"Those two turnovers were big plays for us. They got us back in the game," Starkville coach Chuck Friend said. "Vaughn had never carried the ball for us except practice, but he's a big part of our goal-line offense."
Both Tupelo and Starkville struggled offensively in the game, combining for 13 punts and three-fumble ending drives. After falling behind, the Wave's offense couldn't generate a scoring threat.
In addition to the turnovers, the Wave was called for penalties that wiped out four first-down runs by McAlpin in the second half. Tupelo punted once and lost the ball on downs twice in the final quarter.
"We never got anything going on offensive," Hill said. "We didn't have any consistency in our offense. The defense played good, but our mistakes hurt us."
Friend said those miscues allowed his team to overcome Tupelo's defensive play. Milons, a versatile threat who averaged 157 total yards in the first five games, was held to 54 yards rushing and 28 yards passing.
"They did a good job of stopping us, but we got a couple of breaks that opened it up for us," he said.
Starkville got a break on the game's second play as Patrick Neely recovered a fumble at the Wave 1. Milons then scored with 9:46 left in the first quarter.
But after Starkville took the lead, Tupelo tied it up on the ensuing kickoff on Shumpert's 98-yard return for the score. John Michael Marlin kicked the PAT.
Tupelo went up 10-7 on Marlin's 35-yard field goal with 9:43 left in the second quarter. The kick capped an 8-play drive to the 18 in which the Wave earned its only two first downs of the half.
Tupelo, which hosts Southaven next week, finished with 165 total yards (127 rushing, 38 passing). Starkville had 179 yards (141 rushing, 28 passing).
STARKVILLE 21, TUPELO 10
Starkville 7 0 14 0 - 21
Tupelo 7 3 0 0 - 10
STA-Milons 1 run (Couvillion kick), 9:56.
TUP-Shumpert 98 kickoff return (Marlin kick), 9:37.
TUP-Marlin 35 field goal, 9:43.
STA-Vaughn 1 run (Couvillion kick), 1:51.
STA-Vaughn 1 run (Couvillion kick), :29.