October 10, 2009 11:28:00 PM
STARKVILLE -- Despite wet and slippery field conditions, the Starkville High School football team found confidence in its passing game Friday.
After trailing 6-3 in the first quarter, Starkville scored 31 unanswered points en route to a 34-6 victory against Horn Lake in a Class 6A, Region 1, District 2 game.
The victory helped Starkville (3-4, 3-0 district) continue its resurgence after an 0-4 start that featured losses to three teams that won state titles last season (Noxubee County, Louisville, and Meridian) and West Point.
Junior quarterback Jaquez Johnson was 12 of 20 for 276 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for a team-high 40 yards on nine carries and a touchdown.
"It just felt good today, I let things become open and made plays," Johnson said. "It was my first breakout game of the year, and we just want to continue this momentum."
On their opening drive, the Yellow Jackets drove down 69 yards before senior Cody Berryhill kicked a 22-yard field goal to give them a 3-0 lead.
The Eagles responded three minutes later when senior running back Camaren Harris faked a punt and raced 66 yards for a touchdown to make it 6-3 with 4 minutes, 50 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Starkville outscored Horn Lake 18-0 in the second quarter. The first of three touchdowns came on a 76-yard pass from Johnson to senior running back Justin Rogers (game-high 109 yards receiving).
Following a turnover, Starkville scored on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to senior wide receiver Brandon Johnson (63 yards receiving) with 2:05 remaining in the first half.
Starkville used excellent time management and offensive execution as the half ran out to sneak in one more touchdown.
Johnson connected with senior wide receiver Chuck Tillery (68 receiving yards) to help set up Johnson''s 33-yard scoring strike to Rogers that gave the Yellow Jackets a 21-6 lead at halftime.
"We couldn''t run block, so we had to throw the ball," Starkville coach Bill Lee said. "Even though the field was damp a wet ball flew the same way."
Following a Bryce Henderson interception, Starkville''s Johnson scored on a 3-yard quarterback sneak.
The Yellow Jackets punched one more score in after a 32-yard completion from Johnson to Tillery. That pass play helped set up senior fullback Billy Shed (eight carries, 21 yards), who scored a 1-yard dive.
Starkville forced two sacks for a loss of 14 yards and only turned the ball over once, while Horn Lake gave up two turnovers.
The three-game winning streak has Starkville one victory away from clinching a playoff berth in the eight-team district.
Starkville will have a chance to clinch that spot Friday when it travels to Southaven.
"We were in the same position we are in now last season," Johnson said. "It is all up to us to win and make the playoffs."
1. MSU football team lands 28th commitment COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Defense delivers for Caledonia boys HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. MSU will try to correct defensive lapses COLLEGE SPORTS
4. MSU has 28 players in Class of 2015 with one week to go COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Second-half surge lifts No. 18 MSU past Auburn COLLEGE SPORTS