High school football is built on rivalries and nowhere in Mississippi is there a better rivalry than Starkville-West Point.
On Friday night, the rivalry was renewed and for two and a half quarters the fans of both schools were treated to a game for the ages. However a single play led to the Yellowjacket demise, dropping a 47-22 decision to the Green Wave.
Midway of the third quarter, the Yellowjackets had just taken the lead off a Green Wave turnover when they were faced with a fourth and inches situation on their 34-yard-line, SHS head coach Jamie Mitchell makes the call to go for it and the Yellowjackets come up short.
Three plays later, West Point finds the end zone to retake the lead 26-22, and on the next Starkville possession, Gabe Myles threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown and the rout was on.
“I thought the game really turned when we went for it on fourth and inches and didn’t get it, then we throw a pick-six," Mitchell said. "Talk about a swing in a ballgame. It just didn’t stop from there.”
The first half was textbook high school football. Starkville opened the game with a 76-yard drive resulting in a Myles touchdown pass to Preston Baker, who was later carted off the field with an apparent leg injury. The Jackets converted the two-point play for the early 8-0 lead.
West Point answered with a 65-yard drive of their own capped by an Aeries William 2-yard plunge for a score.
The two teams traded scores again on its next possessions setting the score at 15-14 late in the second quarter. The Green Wave then took the lead 20-15 entering the locker room on a pass into corner of the end zone to Williams.
“I thought we played great for two and a half quarters and it is just amazing how two plays can completely flip the score," Mitchell said. "You don’t see that happen often. They converted four fourth -own conversions in the first half. If you stop two of those, you probably win the ballgame, but we didn’t and they converted them.”
Once the flood gates opened, the Green Wave piled on for 346 total yards of offense thanks in large part to the duo of Tez Lane and Williams. For the game, Lane had 145 yards rushing on 19 carries as the West Point quarterback, while Williams carried the ball 25 times for 164 yards.
The West Point defense held Myles and company to 237 yards of total offense with three scores.
“We are just down to paper thin and even beyond that,” said Mitchell in regards to the rash of injuries the Jackets have faced. “That’s no excuse. We’ve got to compete better when the chips are down. I thought we gave in a little there in the fourth quarter and that’s just not our style at all.”
Starkville takes the week off before opening district play at Lanier on Sept. 21.