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BACK TO JACKSON: Jackets go through Wave once again to reach State

November 24, 2012

Starkville High School senior quarterback Gabe Myles (5) fakes a handoff to Darius Grayer (25) then takes off against the West Point defense Friday night. (Photos by Kim Murrell, SDN)

It seems that history is repeating itself.

Last year the Starkville High School football team lost to West Point in the regular season, but beat them in the playoffs on route to Jackson.
SHS lost to West Point 47-22 on Sept. 7.

The Yellowjackets followed history and beat the Green Wave 29-28 in an overtime thriller to win the Class 5A North State title at Yellowjacket Stadium.

The Jackets (11-3) knew before the season that they were going to be without a player. Devin Mitchell passed away in January of this year. His spirit was seen on the field.

"There is a 32 up there that has kind of had his hand on this game," SHS head coach Jamie Mitchell said.

Devon was supposed to be a senior this year and get a good amount of playing time as a running back. His teammates have felt his loss.

"This game was especially for him (Friday night)," SHS senior quarterback Gabe Myles said.

The Jackets play Pascagoula Dec. 1 in Jackson for the Class 5A Sate title. This is the second year in a row SHS advanced to the state title game. The last time that happened was 1994-95.

The Jackets lost to Picayune last year in Jackson.

SHS found themselves down 28-21 in the overtime period. It was facing a fourth-and-goal from the 15-yard line.

Myles tossed up a prayer, and senior wide receiver Kentrell Spencer answered it by pulling it down in the end zone.

Instead of kicking the extra point, the Jackets decided to go for it.

"We knew very earlier that if we could score, we would go for two," Mitchell said. "They are almost impossible to stop from 10-yard depth."

Myles took the snap, but the flat route to Preston Baker was not open. He tucked his head with the football and rushed toward the end zone for the two-point conversion.

The ball broke the plain and the Yellowjackets rushed to the end zone to greet Myles.

"(It's) just knowing that you have to make a play," Myles said. "This is it. This is it for us seniors. I'm a senior, and I know that they want this as bad as I want this. (It's) just to go in and make a play when you can."

Mitchell was surprised as anyone to see Myles cross the goal line for the two-point conversion.

"We were trying to hit (Preston) Baker in the flat," Mitchell said. "They did a great job of covering it. I have no idea how he got in right there."

The Green Wave (11-3) set the tone early in the overtime period. Junior running back Aeris Williams took the first snap 10 yards and plunged into the end zone to give West Point the lead.

The Jackets had a chance in regulation to win the game, but a 24-yard Charlie Henderson field goal was blocked by the Green Wave as the final second ticked off the clock.

"I felt like we missed so many plays (Friday)," Mitchell said. "Give West Point credit. They did exactly what they do. They bowed up in the second half and got after our tail."

Williams finished the night with 29 carries for 108 yards and three touchdowns for West Point. He also had a receiving touchdown. Senior quarterback Dalentez Lane finished with 18 carries on 131 yards. He had 27 passing yards and one touchdown through the air.

Myles was 6-of-10 passing for 120 yards. Baker had 119 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown. Darius Grayer had eight carries for 61 yards and one score. Spencer ended the night with three catches for 77 yards and one score.

Jaquez Horsley had a 6-yard scoring run to put the Jackets on the board in the second quarter.

Starkville finished with 340 yards, while West Point had 266.

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