October 3, 2010 12:43:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Jamie Mitchell knew it would take four to five weeks for the Starkville High School football team''s offense to hit its stride.
After blowing out DeSoto Central last week, the Yellow Jackets made short work of Tupelo in a 47-14 win Friday night.
The Jackets (4-2, 2-0 Class 6A, Region 1) posted 430 yards of offense and punted just twice, riding the efforts of quarterback Jaquez Johnson, who was 8 of 15 for 224 yards and scored a career-high five touchdowns.
The rout was Starkville''s second win by 30 points or more this season, and the program''s highest point total since beating Southaven 48-20 in 2007.
Needless to say, Starkville High''s offense has caught up to its defense, which held its fourth opponent of the season to 16 points or less.
"I don''t think there''s any doubt, we''re running it well and throwing it well," said Mitchell, who is in his first season as Starkville High''s head coach. "We finally found some wideouts to step up and make plays. Quez is just so good right now, and he''s so accurate.
"I can''t forget to mention (running back) Garrett Smith, who I think continues to fly under the radar. He''s a tremendously talented running back."
Johnson and Smith proved to be versatile threats against the Golden Wave (4-1, 1-1), accounting for all of Starkville High''s scores.
Smith, who had two scores, ran for 116 yards on 12 carries and caught two passes for 47 yards.
Johnson, who has been the cornerstone of Starkville High''s offense since ''08, relished his second-straight win against a program he enjoys beating.
He said he "hates" Tupelo, as he plays against the Golden Wave in three sports. The victory Friday was his first against Tupelo at home on the gridiron.
"It started in seventh-grade basketball when they beat me in the championship," Johnson said. "Ever since then I just hated playing Tupelo. I get a real excited feeling when I play them, so to play like this and beat them like this feels really good."
At halftime, the Yellow Jackets had 311 total yards offense to Tupelo''s 70. Starkville had scoring plays of 71, 62, 30, and 21 yards in the first half, picking up where it left off against DeSoto Central.
"The big plays just killed Tupelo," said Mitchell, a former assistant coach with the Golden Wave in the 90s.
After just 21 offensive plays and four possessions, the Yellow Jackets had a 26-7 lead and control against an opponent that entered the game undefeated.
Johnson had a 30-yard scoring pass to Shaquille Hill, a 71-yarder to Martavious Foster, and a 62-yard strike to Bryce Henderson. Johnson later converted a fourth-and-goal with a 5-yard touchdown pass to fullback Jakarta Agnew.
"They were playing a lot of cover three with one safety," Johnson said. "They would shade their safety to the tight end or Shaq, so it was real easy to go backside or over the top."
Starkville High''s balance included 206 rushing yards and an average of 6.2 yards per carry, which came against a stout line featuring highly touted end P.J. Jones.
"They were reading and reacting against us," tackle Jarrod Atterberry said. "They have a lot of talent and they''re real disciplined -- kind of like a West Point with one player that dominated the line and made all of the rest of them better. But we were prepared, and we just came together as one unit."
Lost in the offensive fireworks was Starkville High''s defense, which held running back Ashton Shumpert to 32 yards on 14 carries.
Tupelo quarterback Luke Hobson posted 111 of his 115 passing yards in the second half, but he threw one interception, fumbled once, and was sacked twice.
The Golden Wave''s only consistent source for yards was the return game, where they racked up 256 yards.
"We felt we were a little bit better than them on the defensive front," Mitchell said. "We were able to contain (Shumpert) with just seven in the box, which is tremendously hard to do. Our defense has been outstanding all year long, and they were again tonight."
Starkville High will play next week at Horn Lake (1-5), which beat DeSoto Central on Friday to earn its first win of the season. Tupelo will travel to undefeated Southaven.
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5. Bulldogs finish fourth at Old Waverly COLLEGE SPORTS