SHS loses heart-breaker to Southaven
Starkville High School coach Jamie Mitchell (right) consoles his players as they come to the sideline. (Kim Murrell/SDN)
The Starkville High School coaching staff saw a chance to win Friday's game against the Southaven Chargers in the closing minute and went for it.
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After SHS quarterback Jaquez Johnson found wide receiver Shaquille Hill for a 19-yard touchdown pass, the Yellowjackets lined up for an apparent kick to tie the game that would have probably sent the game into overtime.
Instead kicker Daniel Fumo took the direct snap from center, ran to his left and was brought down by a Southaven defender.
The Chargers recovered the on-side kick and ran out the clock to preserve a 28-27 victory at Yellowjacket Stadium.
Starkville coach Jamie Mitchell said there wasn't much time to consider what to do right after the touchdown with no timeouts so he decided to fake the kick and go for two points.
"The easy thing to do is second-guess yourself," Mitchell said. "I felt like we had a good play and it had worked out all week long. They had shown pressure from that side hard on extra point and field goal. We wouldn't have called it if we didn't think it would work.
"The kid made a great play. He didn't come as hard as we thought he would. It's a gadget play and it didn't work out for us."
The Jackets came back from a 21-7 halftime deficit only to lose on Homecoming and fell to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in Class 6A, Region 1.
Despite the heartbreak, Mitchell was proud of his squad for coming back and having a chance at the end.
"I'll take these guys anywhere," Mitchell said, "When you play that hard, you wish good things could happen. You go all of the way back to the first quarter and you give them the first one. That's brutal. I thought our kids fought back from two touchdowns down, then they score to go right back up, we come back down to score and have a chanced to kick it or win it."
Johnson, who hadn't thrown an interception since the first game of the season against Noxubee County, threw a pick against Southaven in the opening quarter. Jeff Johnson snatched Johnson's pass attempt out of the air and returned it 7 yards for the score with 5 minutes remaining.
Starkville answered back with 5:40 left in the second quarter on a 5-yard run by Johnson, but Southaven struck for two more touchdowns before halftime.
The Chargers took advantage of a 56-yard kickoff return by Tremayne Cunningham down to the SHS 34-yard line and on the next play, Chris Rice broke a run for the score.
Southaven added seven more points before halftime on a 7-yard pass from Dominique Harris to Anthony Williams.
After ChasityÂ Swoopes was crowned Homecoming Queen for SHS, Johnson got the Jackets back into the game with a pair of touchdown runs of 1 yard in the third quarter and 3 yards in the fourth quarter.
With 3:44 left to play in the game, Harris connected once again with Williams for a 44-yard touchdown and Mike Robbins extra-point kick turned out to be the winning point.
Hill gave the Jackets a chance at the end when he caught the touchdown pass from Johnson and tip-toed the back of the end zone.
"I told Quez before we ran the play, let's either go to (Martavius Foster) or (Hill)," Mitchell said. "Those are our guys. The protection broke down, Quez moved and just threw it."
Starkville had 323 yards of total offense, mainly on ground from Johnson, Garrett Smith and Stanley Higgins.
Johnson carried 24 times for 105 yards and his three TDs, while Smith added 63 yards on 14 attempts and Higgins chipped in 75 yards on 11 carries.
The Jackets go back to the northwest part of the state next week to take on Olive Branch.