August 23, 2009 12:35:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Ackerman High School senior running back Shawn Stricklin delivered a lights-out performance in more ways than one Friday night in the season opener against Starkville Academy.
Stricklin rushed for a career-high four touchdowns and 124 yards to lead the Indians to a 55-2 victory.
Following his last touchdown, a 35-yard score in the third quarter, the stadium lights on the home side of the field went out and caused a five-minute delay.
"I thought Shawn (Stricklin) ran the ball really well, but it started with the line in front of him," Ackerman coach Adam Dillinger said. "Anytime you can lean on people enough, it''s going to be a big factor. I thought we controlled the lines, and that is huge in any kind of a game."
The Indians'' lines did more than just lean on the Volunteers. They dominated the game.
Ackerman rushed for 310 yards and averaged 8.6 yards per rush.
The defense was suffocating, also, limiting Starkville Academy to just 5 yards for the game with seven sacks.
The Indians also created five turnovers, each of which led to touchdowns.
"We made way too many mistakes to win tonight," Starkville Academy coach Brian Sims said. "Ackerman is a great team, and they capitalized on the opportunities we gave them. They executed better than we did, putting us in a big hole early."
The deficit grew to 21-0 by the middle of the first quarter on a 28-yard
connection from Andrew Furr to Josh Cummings.
The Indians found the end zone on each of their first three drives, while the Volunteers turned the ball over on two of their first four plays.
Furr led the Indians, completing 4 of 6 passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns. He also connected with Josh Brown on a fade pattern for a 1-yard touchdown pass.
The lead grew to 27-0 by halftime on a 41-yard run by Stricklin. The drive was set up by a Patrick Scribner fumble recovery following a sack of quarterback Will Goodwin.
"We have got to make a lot less mistakes if we expect to beat good teams," Sims said. "We have a good quarterback and a good group of receivers, but being under constant pressure is a factor on every quarterback."
Goodwin was 6 of 13 for 92 yards, including a 53-yard strike to Kyle
Henson. Without a rushing attack to balance the offense, though, the offense had only three first downs and crossed midfield twice.
The Indians took a 55-0 lead in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter on a Levias Simmons recovered fumble.
Starkville Academy avoided the shutout when Adam Crittenden tackled running back Josh Bryant in the end zone for a safety.
"I don''t think we are 53 points better than them," Dillinger said. "I''ll say this, I think coach Sims handled everything with class. We appreciate the way they hosted us. We just got some momentum and they turned the ball over early for us."
The matchup was the first between the schools.
The schools will open with each other next season in Ackerman.
Ackerman will return to action Friday when it travels to Durant.
Starkville Academy will try to bounce back when it travels to play Washington School.