Starkville Academy running back Michael Miller (40) runs behind the blocking of lineman Cole Phelps (61) during Friday night's game against Heritage. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
It wasn't the type of performance that the Starkville Academy Volunteers were looking for in their home opener at J.E. Logan Field Friday night.
Even though the Heritage Academy Patriots made it look easy in defeating the Vols 19-6, Starkville Academy coach Jeff Terrill knows it's just one game.
The message delivered after the game was put the defeat in the past quickly and get ready for Magnolia Heights on the road next week.
"It was a good test for us," Terrill said of the game against Heritage. "We did not pass the test, but that doesn't mean the course has failed yet.
"We've got to get better next week. Football is a marathon and not a sprint. This is a non-division game. We are 0-0 in the division. We've got 20 sophomores on this team. We did a lot of good things and Heritage has a good football team so we've got everything out in front of us."
It was a struggle for Starkville Academy to get anything going offensively against the Patriots. The Vols had 182 yards of total offense, but turnovers killed drives when things seemed to be moving in a positive direction.
It was one of those turnovers that gave Heritage momentum in the first quarter as on a fourth down play, Starkville Academy quarterback Drew Pellum dropped back for his second pass attempt of the game and threw it right into the hands of Heritage Academy's Parker Dunaway.
Dunaway used a burst of momentum to return the interception 86 yards for the score. The run for the two-point conversion failed and the visiting Patriots had a 6-0 lead with 6:38 remaining in the first quarter.
Pellum's interception was one of two for the game and the Vols also lost a fumble in the second half.
"We turned the ball over and had costly penalties," Terrill said. "With the effort and determination that Heritage was playing with, you can't do that."
Starkville Academy cut the lead in half at the beginning of the second quarter when Johnathon Burton kicked a 36-yard field goal.
On its next possession, Heritage went on a 64-yard, 11-play drive and added seven points to the margin when Cade Lott tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Fields. The extra point was good and the Patriots were on top 13-3 at halftime.
Burton added three more points for the Vols with a 33-yard field goal with 10:37 left in the third quarter, but that was all of the points the home team got.
The Patriots put the finishing touches on the victory with a 4-yard touchdown run by Miller Puckett.
"You just have to give the Heritage offense and defense the credit," Terrill said. "They just really came in and played a great football game."
Starkville Academy had 72 yards on the ground and 110 yards passing. Colby Runnels could never get going in the running game, leading the Vols with 41 yards on 14 carries.
Heritage Academy coach Barrett Donahoe knew that keeping possession and controlling the clock would be key against SA.
"We knew limited possessions would take place in this game with the offense Starkville runs and the great job they do of controlling the football," Donahoe said. "We wanted to take that away from them. We wanted to do the same thing and use the clock to an advantage for us."
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