The Starkville Yellowjackets traded blows with the invading Noxubee County Tigers Friday night.
Noxubee County landed the final one with 53 seconds to play and escaped Starkville with a 14-7 victory.
In the debut for head coach Jamie Mitchell, the Jackets played well enough to win, but just couldn't come up with enough positive plays to change the outcome.
"We left so many plays out there that we just didn't make, not to discredit Noxubee because they are tremendously talented," Mitchell said. "It was two good football teams and it went down to the last 53 seconds."
The Tigers took advantage of a late interception and hit two big plays in the fourth quarter. After Darrell Robinson ripped a 42-yard run, quarterback Deangelo Ballard completed a Ladarrell Hunt with a 32-yard score which turned out to be the difference.
Mitchell isn't into moral victories, but was proud of his team for the effort. Starkville lost to Noxubee County 30-0 in Macon to open last season.
"You are never going to be satisfied with a loss," Mitchell said. "This was a 30-0 game a year ago and there's no question we've made a ton of strides. We've just got to keep getting after it and keep working."
The Tigers, who also showed a new coach in Tyrone Shorter, were impressed with how the Jackets stayed in the game.
"I take my hat off to coach Mitchell and his staff," Mitchell said. "They were prepared and ready to play. We hung in there and got a big play on them."
Starkville took advantage of a short field to score its first touchdown of the season.
After starting on the Tigers' 27-yard line, the Jackets used only three plays to get into the end zone on a 9-yard run by Jakarte Agnew with 6:20 left in the first quarter.
Starkville missed out on a golden scoring opportunity to add to its lead in the second quarter.
A recovered fumble by David Fair set up the offense at the Noxubee County 18-yard line.
The Jackets were unable to move from that point and attempted a fake field goal where Gabe Myles was caught for a 3-yard gain and short of a first down.
The Tigers took advantage of the situation and much more as they moved 91 yards on 13 plays and were helped by a personal foul penalty on SHS. Jared Johnson capped the drive with a 11-yard scoring run with 38 seconds remaining in the first half.
The numbers indicated what Mitchell suspected that the Jackets didn't have enough production.
With only 144 yards of total offense, Starkville had 107 yards passing and just 37 rushing.
Agnew had 47 yards rushing on 12 carries, while Johnson added 45 yards on 17 attempts.
"We've got to have more guys step up," Mitchell said. "I'm tremendously disappointed in a few of our guys. We're going to work hard at that and get the best guys on the field."
The Jackets have a week to get ready for one of many rivalry games on the schedule when they make the short trip down Highway 25 to face the Louisville Wildcats.