TUPELO – Starkville’s super sophomores came up big again.
Trey Petty, Tyler Nichols and Braylon Burnside each had a hand in the Yellowjackets’ 28-21 comeback win over Tupelo on Friday night.
Nichols had the winning score, walking a tightrope down the sideline on a 47-yard touchdown to break a 21-21 tie with 9:01 left in the game.
“That’s like ballerina style, man. I thought he was going to step out, but he did a great job finishing,” Starkville coach Chris Jones said.
That was the second long TD drive of the half for Starkville (7-0, 3-0 Division 2-6A), the Daily Journal’s No. 5-ranked large school. The Jackets covered 94 yards on 14 plays on their first possession of the third quarter, with Petty hitting Burnside on a 24-yard touchdown pass to tie the game.
Petty finished the game with 118 rushing yards, and he completed 10 of 19 passes for 129 yards. He converted five third downs on the two second-half scoring drives.
Starkville totaled 241 rushing yards on the night.
“Second half we kind of had them tired, and the game plan was to lay it on them – run the ball, run the ball,” Jones said.
No. 4 Tupelo (5-2, 1-2) had staked a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter, but Starkville got back in it with touchdown runs by Nichols and Jordan Mitchell. Tupelo led 14-13 at the half.
The Golden Wave made it 21-13 on Jeremiah Harrell’s 19-yard touchdown pass to KD Gibson early in the third quarter.
And then the Jackets went to work, pounding it on the ground with the occasional Petty completion sprinkled in. Nichols rushed for 64 yards in the second half.
“We help each other,” Nichols said of his fellow sophomores. “We’ve been with each other since peewee, and we ain’t looking to go nowhere no time soon.”
Harrell completed 8 of 22 passes for 106 yards, two TDs an an interception. He also rushed for 77 yards.
Turning Point: Starkville’s game-winning drive covered 85 yards on 8 plays, capped by Nichols’ long TD run.
Point Man: Nichols finished with 97 rushing yards and two TDs on 13 carries.
Talking Point: “I’m proud of the way they fought, it’s just we’ve got to wake up tomorrow and wash it.” – Tupelo coach Ty Hardin
• Tupelo had 186 rushing yards.
• Fred Adams scored Tupelo’s first TD on a 20-yard interception return.
• Next week, Starkville visits Murrah while Tupelo visits Madison Central.