Noxubee County High School junior Kyziah Pruitt makes a catch against West Point earlier this season. Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch Buy this photo.
November 7, 2017 2:48:47 PM
MACON -- Kyziah Pruitt couldn't help himself Friday night.
Players don't get a lot of chances to deliver two backbreaking plays on one night, but your opportunities to affect the outcome of a game rise significantly when you play on offense, defense, and special teams.
Pruitt's three touchdown catches from Armoni Clark were a key part of the Noxubee County High School football team's 48-26 victory against Amory in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A playoffs. The junior athlete also returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown and picked up a blocked punt and raced 85 yards for another score.
For his accomplishments, Pruitt is The
Dispatch's Prep Player of the Week.
"He is a weapon," Noxubee County coach Tyrone Shorter said. "We were just waiting on that this year. We saw it in ninth grade and in his 10th-grade year. I think he was a little hurt early on and he wasn't telling us. Now, I think he has gotten healthy and he has that drive. He doesn't want to get off the field. He showed that tonight."
Pruitt had four catches for 165 yards to help Noxubee County (7-4) pull away after a slow start. The victory set up a second-round playoff game Friday at Yazoo City.
The Tigers extended their season thanks to Pruitt's ability to read the eyes of quarterback Hunter Jones from his free safety position. With the game tied at 20 in the second quarter, Pruitt broke on the first-down play and turned the momentum of the game.
"When we watched film, we saw the slot was going to run the out or a slant," Pruitt said. "The first time I came up, he didn't throw it. He got sacked. He didn't see me. He threw it straight to me and I just took off."
Pruitt said the Tigers' film study during the week told him the Panthers had one man out in the formation, so the other receiver had to go deep or run in. He said his ability to read Jones' eyes helped him decide which way to go.
Leading Noxubee County 33-20 thanks to Clark's 40-yard touchdown pass to Pruitt, Amory (4-8) attempted a 41-yard field goal in the waning seconds of the first half. Noxubee County's Terry Joiner blocked the kick to set up Pruitt's second backbreaker. This one took a little longer because none of the players reacted immediately to the block, even though the Noxubee County coaches were screaming for their players to pick the football up and run with it.
Pruitt finally obliged his coaches.
"We worked on that situation in practice," Shorter said. "I noticed a lot of our guys were just standing around. I was hollering, 'Go, go.' I saw Kyziah pause, too. Then he took off, but these are high school kids, and you never know what you're going to get out of high school kids. ... I thought they did a great job after they caught on and they did some good blocking. I thought that was a big turning point."
Senior linebacker/running back L.C. Clemmons, who rushed for two touchdowns, called Pruitt "an animal" after watching him do it all on both sides of the football.
After the game, Pruitt acknowledged playing multiple roles has been tough, but he said he has adjusted. He said the only thing he needs to do better is to drink more water during the week so he avoid cramps. He had to leave the game in the third quarter after suffering leg cramps.
Shorter believes Pruitt will get used to drinking more during the week as he gains a better understanding of how hard he will have to work every Friday night. Shorter feels five-touchdown efforts like the one Pruitt delivered against Amory are just the beginning.
"He is going to get better because he has that will to get better," Shorter said. "His work ethic is unbelievable."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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