By DANNY P. SMITH
The Starkville Yellowjackets got big plays out of the offense and defense to knock off the West Point Green Wave 20-14 Friday night.
On an emotional night at Yellowjacket Stadium, the SHS coaches and administration also credited the fan support for creating the type of atmosphere needed to pull off a big victory.
A crowd of over 6,000 people attended the game and those that filled the home side were instrumental in giving the Jackets an edge.
"The Starkville athletic department wants to thank the fans for that great support on Friday night," Starkville athletic director Stan Miller said. "The 12th man in the stands really made a difference. I really appreciate the support. We had those thundersticks in the student section and there were people in the chairback section. It was just unreal."
The way the Jackets played on the field gave the individuals who braved the cool conditions a reason to cheer.
After a fumble recovery by Dennis Ware, SHS quarterback Gabe Myles had his part in two pass completions and three rushes, including the 6-yard run for the winning touchdown with 7:11 remaining in the game.
Starkville coach Jamie Mitchell, who had been asking for a strong homefield advantage for several weeks, said the fans have no idea how much they can impact the outcome of games.
"We had a great, enthusiastic crowd and it helps so much," Mitchell said. "These are young kids and they feed off of emotion and it was awesome to see last night. I'm just proud of our town."
The Jackets were able to hold onto the advantage for the rest of the game and when the victory against their arch rival was complete, it set off a huge celebration.
"That's one you put in the memory bank for a long time," Miller said. "There were two just great football teams out there. We just need to take care of business the next two weeks."
Starkville (11-2) advances to play at Ridgeland in the Class 5A North Championship game on Friday. with a win there, the Jackets play for their first state title since 2001.