August 29, 2009 11:51:00 PM
STARKVILLE -- Senior wide receiver Markese Triplett caught five passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Louisville High School football team to a 26-21 victory against the Starkville Yellow Jackets.
The 6-foot-4 receiver and University of Southern Mississippi commitment had an 87-yard touchdown reception on the second play from scrimmage to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead. He added a 60-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
"He''s just a playmaker," Starkville coach Bill Lee said. "Louisville did a great job coaching tonight and getting the ball to the right guys."
Senior quarterback Chris Wraggs (15-for-25, 284 yards, three touchdowns) was on the other end of each connection.
Of Triplett''s five catches, all were made at or behind the line of scrimmage.
The Wildcats used their potent screen passing game effectively against an aggressive defense.
"We have played Starkville the last few years and that''s a play that''s worked well for us," Louisville coach Brad Peterson said. "They (Starkville) have a lot of talent, so we just tried to get the ball out of there quick. We made some plays early, but missed some in the second half."
Despite Wraggs'' and Triplett''s big numbers, the game remained tight as Starkville quarterback Jaquez Johnson posted 295 yards of total offense (226 passing, 69 rushing) and accounted for three scores.
"I like this group we have and we are getting better," Lee said. "Every game is a learning experience for us. We had chances to win. We were one block away from springing open a few plays or one play away from finishing this game. We''re really close."
The game nearly turned in Starkville''s favor just before halftime.
Trailing 20-14, the Yellow Jackets were on the Louisville 9 with 11 seconds left. However, a Zan Carter interception in the end zone thwarted the drive.
"You can look at all the offense in this game, but that''s the play that probably won the game," Peterson said. "That was the margin of victory and gave us some momentum into the second half."
Louisville took advantage and extended its lead to 26-14 on the first play of the fourth quarter on Wraggs'' 13-yard touchdown pass to Tahj Ford.
Starkville cut the deficit to 26-21 on a Justin Rogers'' 5-yard touchdown reception from Johnson on fourth-and-goal with 7 minutes, 41 seconds left.
The teams exchanged punts on their next four drives to give the Yellow Jackets one final chance with 1:54 left.
Starting on its 14, Starkville moved to its 40 with 1:29 left, but four consecutive incompletions ended the drive.
"I feel so bad for these kids because I want them to do so good and have success," Lee said. "We made one play less than we needed to on offense. We had some drops, made a couple of mistakes and fell short. But I am so proud of these guys for fighting and staying with it."
Starkville (0-2) will try to bounce back against Meridian, the Class 5A champions from 2008. Meridian, like Starkville, moved up to Class 6A this season with the reclassification.
Louisville (2-0) will travel to Quitman.