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Tupelo holds on to beat Columbus


Cain Madden Special to the Dispatch



The Columbus High School football team came out to win Friday night. 


But after several fourth-quarter drives fizzled against Tupelo, frustrations started to build on the field. 


These frustrations boiled over to the locker room after a 10-6 loss, as several players went back in tears vowing to make a change to better represent the city of Columbus. 


"We are so close to turning (the season) around," Columbus High coach Bubba Davis said. "That''s why the kids are upset because they can turn it around (and haven''t)." 


Columbus came out in the first half better prepared for the wet conditions and scooped up all three of Tupelo''s fumbles. 


While the Falcons'' defense was good, Tupelo gained more yards on offense than Columbus. 


The Golden Wave halted Columbus'' running game to 79 yards. Damian Baker, who had averaged 100 yards a game up until Tupelo, rushed for 59 yards -- only 16 in the second half. 


Since Columbus''s running game was often stopped short, Cedric Jackson was forced to pass more and finished 1-for-9 for 27 yards. 


"Our defense has to carry us while our young offense is getting better," Tupelo High coach Eric Collins said. "Our biggest thing was to stop their running game and force them to throw, and it worked." 


In the second quarter, Columbus'' defense put the Falcons 12 yards from the goal line following a fumbled punt return. Even though a penalty was called on Columbus during the short drive, Baker scored on a third-and-9 run. 


After Columbus'' defense recovered another fumble on Tupelo''s next drive, Baker ran out the clock to end the quarter. 


But that was all the offense Columbus managed. 


"We had a week off, so we talked about the Columbus game for two straight weeks," Collins said. "I thought whoever handled the (wet) field conditions the best was gonna win. 


"We didn''t do that in the first half, but we handled the field conditions the best when it counted." 


The Golden Wave (1-3) came out hungrier for a win in the second half, Collins said. 


"After the first half we had to calm down, and calm me down, too," he said. "I was livid. I had never seen so many mistakes." 


Collins said his players cooled their heads at halftime and came out poised to win.  


The Falcons received the kickoff, but only earned one first down and were forced to punt.  


Quarterback Nathan Wallace led the drive with two passes for 26 yards. Sophomore Matt MacIntosh (four rushes, 78 yards), who earlier had a touchdown called back, helped set up McKenzie Tyler''s 2-yard touchdown. 


"(Matt MacIntosh) is the fastest kid in North Mississippi," Collins said. "We want to work him into our offense more. 


"He found ways to make big plays, and he will have many more to come." 


Randy Brown fumbled the ensuing kickoff to give the football back to the Golden Wave.  


An 8-yard pass by Wallace gave Tupelo a first down, but it didn''t get any farther. Luke Hobson''s field goal ended the scoring. 


"We are making too many mistakes, and it is still killing us," Davis said. "Same old, same old." 


Davis said part of the problem can be blamed on his players'' frustrations. He said a team can get so tired of losing that it can affect the way the players play. 


"We want to win so bad that maybe they are trying too hard," he said.  


Davis'' father told him when he first started coaching that football is a simple game. 


"He said you score first, don''t let them score a point, and win," Davis said. "Sometimes we make football more complicated than it needs to be." 


Columbus needs to come to practice with a mind-set to get better, he said. 


"You can get mad at yourself, but you''ve got to get over it," Davis said. "Bottom line is the kids need to come to practice and make an effort to learn to execute so they can be confident of their abilities come gametime." 




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