Jackets ground Falcons with dominant effort

Staff Writer

Dominant. That perfectly summed up the first half for the Starkville Yellow Jackets on Friday night.

That dominance came in every phase of the game from offense to defense and special teams. The Jackets scored on every offensive possession and turned the Columbus Falcons over three times in the first two quarters on the way to a 45-0 lead and they cruised to a 4-0 start with the 72-6 victory.

By halftime, running back Rodrigues Clark had racked up 117 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries. It was his eighth-straight game of over 100 yards continuing from last season and he’s already notched nine rushing touchdowns for the year. For the second time in four games, he didn’t play in the second half due to the blowout.

Clark had flashbacks to his last time at Falcon Field when he scored four touchdowns in the junior varsity game and rushed for over 250 yards.

“Those are the same guys and I’ve gotten four times better so I already knew we were going to come out and dominate," Clark said. "Everyone just had to lock in. Our offense is real good once we get focused. We weren’t focused on the first drive, but we came back out and did what we had to do.”

He had help in that monster first half, of course. Quarterback Luke Altmyer was an efficient 13-of-17 for 222 yards and two scoring tosses. One of his touchdowns was to Rufus Harvey, who had five catches for 126 yards in the win.

The defense carried its weight as well. The unit forced and recovered two fumbles and Justice Robinson intercepted a pass and returned it 35 yards for a score.

The second half was all about the youngsters as coach Chris Jones cleared the bench and the clock ran. Nyjal Johnson took over at quarterback and threw a touchdown to Jatavious Lucious on the first offensive possession of the second half to continue the pounding.

Off the bench, Johnson went a perfect 5-for-5 with 48 yards and two scores of his own. Amariyon Howard had four carries for 70 yards and a 45-yard touchdown run. Lazavier Evans had four carries for 41 yards and capped the game with the final score in the last seconds.

“I didn’t see a big drop off (with the backups) and didn’t expect one because our kids practice at a high level,” Jones said. “When they come out here, we expect them to play at a high level.”

SHS finished with 523 yards of total offense on just 43 plays. They rushed for 253 yards and threw for another 270 while giving up just 197 yards defensively.

The Jackets get a well-deserved off week this week before returning home to start Class 6A, Region 2 play against Provine. Between now and then, Jones is just hoping that his team gets better.

“There are still a lot of things we have to clean up," Jones said. "Yeah, we scored a lot of points, but I’m all about getting better. We’re going to use this bye week to get better and get healthy. We’ve got a long season ahead of us so we have to be humble and hungry.”