By Gene Phelps
OLIVE BRANCH – The son of FedEx delivered Friday night.
Olive Branch quarterback Cannon Smith passed for three touchdowns and ran for another to fly the No. 2-ranked Conquistadors to a 35-10 victory over Tupelo in a Region 1-5A showdown.
“He’s had solid performances all season,” Olive Branch coach Scott Samsil said of FedEx founder Fred Smith’s son. “He broke the school record tonight for touchdown passes in a season.”
Smith, who had touchdown tosses for 49, 33 and 4 yards against the Golden Wave, now has 22 for the season.
The loss knocked the Golden Wave (6-4, 5-2) to No. 3 in the region, meaning Tupelo will travel to Clinton for next week’s 5A state playoffs opener. The two teams played in the season opener with Clinton winning, 17-10.
Olive Branch (10-1, 7-0) will host Madison Central in the first round.
“We gave up too many big plays,” Tupelo coach Eric Collins said. “You can’t play an explosive team like that and give up big plays. I’m very disappointed.”
Golden Wave running back Kenneth Davis, who has been sidelined since Oct. 6 with a sprained knee ligament, returned to action briefly. He carried eight times for 19 yards with a braced knee.
“We picked some series in both halves. We wanted to get him some snaps,” Tupelo offensive coordinator Buz Boyer said.
Also, wide receiver Justin Bean and rover Miles Backstrom returned to the Tupelo lineup after being sideline with hamstring injuries.
“We wanted to get these three back for the playoffs,” Collins said. “We’re excited about that.”
Wave was close
Tupelo cut Olive Branch’s lead to 21-10 midway in the third period on Jimmie Townsend’s 46-yard field goal. He missed a 41-yard attempt later in the quarter.
The Conquistadors, thanks to a roughing the passer call, marched inside the Wave 10 late in the third quarter, then scored with 11 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in the game on Smith’s 4-yard toss to Demontanise Hill.
Olive Branch, following a fumble by Davis on the Wave’s next possession, made it 35-10 on Smith’s 33-yard strike to Warren Lewis.
The Desoto County team needed two minutes early in the first quarter to jump out to a 14-0 lead.
Michael Wright’s 60-yard punt return gave the Conquistadors a 7-0 lead with 10:54 remaining.
Following a Tupelo punt, Olive Branch moved inside the Golden Wave 5-yard line on a 43-yard pass from Smith to Tarble Mays. Smith scored two plays later from 1 yard out on a sneak to give his team a two-touchdown advantage.
Tupelo cut the lead to 14-7 with 8:33 remaining in the second quarter on a 48-yard strike from Chris Garrett to Chad Bumphis, who made the grab behind the Olive Branch defender in the end zone.
Smith and Mays hooked for a 49-yard touchdown pass with 5:31 remaining in the second quarter which gave the Conquistadors their 21-7 halftime lead. On the play, Mays caught the ball over a falling Wave defender, kept his balance, and ran into the end zone.