BELDEN • Tupelo Christian did what was needed to qualify for the playoffs – and then some.
The Eagles overcame a rough start to storm past Division 2-1A foe West Lowndes, 35-6, on a frigid Friday night in the regular-season finale for both teams.
TCPS (8-3, 5-3) needed to win by at least five points to clinch a playoff berth. Since it won by more than nine, it will be the division’s No. 3 seed, and Smithville is eliminated on the points tiebreaker.
“We just wanted to make it to the playoffs for the third year in a row,” quarterback Khi Holiday said. “It means a lot, because our seniors, that was the class that was here when we didn’t have a football team. They mean a lot to us, and we want to keep on going for them.”
The Eagles fumbled the ball away three times deep in West Lowndes territory in the first half. And they were stuffed on a fourth-and-goal from the 1.
But the dual-threat Holiday rushed for an 18-yard touchdown and hit Noah Foster for a 25-yard score to give TCPS a 14-6 halftime lead.
The offense hit high gear in the third quarter. Holiday capped a seven-play, 48-yard drive with a 20-yard pass to Graham Chrisman, making it 21-6.
Chrisman came up big on defense a few minutes later with an interception in the end zone. On the next play, Holiday hit a streaking Foster down the left sideline for a 91-yard TD to blow the game open.
Holiday was playing without a fingernail on the ring finger of his throwing hand. It was ripped off in the first quarter.
“It affected me the first two throws I threw with it, but after that I just had to mute it out,” he said.
Turning Point: West Lowndes had a chance to pull within one score of TCPS, but Chrisman’s interception and Foster’s long TD turned the momentum for good.
Point Man: Holiday passed for 222 yards and two touchdowns, rushed for 65 yards and a score, plus he returned a punt 35 yards for a TD.
Talking Point: “We had the worst first half you could’ve had, and they came in at halftime and they stayed focused, and we went out and we executed in the second half.” – TCPS coach Shaune Holiday
• West Lowndes was limited to 160 total yards, including just 31 rushing.
• Foster had three catches for 130 yards, two TDs.
• TCPS will travel to Baldwyn for the first round of the playoffs.