By JUSTIN AMMON
For Starkville Daily News
CRAWFORD – On the second play from the line of scrimmage, Pelahatchie running back Casey Ousley followed his left tackle’s lead and busted free for an 80-yard touchdown run.
Chief backs streaking down the sidelines became a familiar sight in what turned into a route Friday at East Oktibbeha, who fell to Pelahatchie 41-28.
Pelahatchie’s spread-option, wishbone-type offense accounted for 391 yards rushing on 40 attempts. The Chiefs only threw the ball five times, completing no passes.
East Oktibbeha (5-3, 3-2 in Class A, Region 3) needs to win its next three games in order to secure a playoff birth. Friday’s loss ensures they will not be the first team in school history to host a first-round game.
“It will be tough to win out,” East Oktibbeha coach Randy Brooks said. “In the past, some boys have quit. This team doesn’t quit, but we are still trying to develop a new mentality, a mentality of winning.”
On its third offensive play, East Oktibbeha fumbled a snap which Pelahatchie quickly jumped on. Three plays later, Pelahatchie back Kendrick Sullivan broke free for a 49-yard touchdown scamper to go up 14-0.
On the Titan’s next possession, wide receiver Kody Petty, who also punts, was unable to get a kick off on fourth down, as he was slung to the turf on the Titans' own 6-yard line. On the next play, Sullivan punched the ball in from 6 yards out for another Chief score. After capitalizing on two turnovers, the Chiefs were up 20-0 just 6 minutes into the contest.
They didn’t really look back after that with déjà vu striking early in the second half. Again on the Chief’s second play from the line of scrimmage, Ousley broke free for a long touchdown run, this time for 53 yards to the house, putting the Chiefs up 34-6.
Although the game was never that close, the Titans managed to rack up decent numbers offensively. Quarterback Davalyn Bell threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns on 18-of-39 passing. He also ran for 78 yards. East Oktibbeha gained 335 yards overall. James Brown also ran for two touchdowns.
However, the Chief rushing attack was far more effective. Ousley rushed for 253 yards and three touchdowns. His back up, Sullivan, rushed for 110 yards and three touchdowns. The tandem accounted for 363 yards and six touchdowns.
The Chiefs were able to rest its starters at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Still, East Oktibbeha fought until the last play. After recovering a fumble late in the fourth quarter, the Titans were able to take advantage. As the clock ticked down to zero, Bell hit Jamal Halbert, who caught two touchdown passes, for a 45-yard score.
“We have a chance to turn it around and make the playoffs,” wide receiver Terence Rice said. “We just have to work harder at practice and get better, work on our technique more often. We just have to come out and play ball. We have to play better and not give up early leads.”
East Oktibbeha travels to West Oktibbeha next week for the Superintendent’s Cup.