September 10, 2017 1:22:06 AM
STARKVILLE -- The Starkville Academy football team had one mission Friday: Bounce back from a tough loss to the Indianola Academy last week.
Coach Chase Nicholson's team responded with a 34-24 victory against East Webster in a Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) vs. Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) rivals from neighboring counties.
"We looked past last week immediately and it showed tonight," Nicholson said. "We knew to go to work."
Starkville Academy (3-1) used Ben Owens' 32-yard pass to running back William Wolfe to complete a 68-yard opening drive.
East Webster created adversity for Starkville Academy early, as running back Jhitwan Rogers scored on a 7-yard touchdown on its opening drive.
Leading 14-7 entering the second quarter, the Volunteers were called for back-to-back penalties that cost them 30 yards. East Webster safety Isaac Patterson then made an interception that allowed the Wolverines to take control. Quarterback Charlie Brand found Patterson for a 29-yard touchdown pass and then added a two-point conversion to give his team a 15-14 lead.
This was the test the Volunteers had prepared for after a 35-21 loss to the reigning MAIS Class AAA State champions last week.
"We worked really hard this week," Nicholson said. "A lot of times teams take a pretty good loss like last week and come out doubtful and sluggish. We didn't show that."
After the interception, Starkville Academy stopped East Webster on fourth down and then drove for a Cameron McKee's 24-yard field goal to make it 17-15.
In the second half, Taylor Arnold (173 yards, two touchdowns) fueled the Volunteers' surge. Arnold took advantage of solid work by the offensive line and put the Volunteers in good field position to strike back.
"Last week, we told our 'O' line we're only going to be as good as they are," Arnold said. "They played insane tonight. They created big holes. They worked their butt off in practice."
Starkville Academy running backs coach Brooks Roberts credited Arnold's hard work for playing a key part in the victory.
"It's all pure talent," Roberts said. "When you have a hole 10 feet wide, it's easy to run. Our offensive line knew it was going to be big going into it. Running backs did what they were supposed to."
Quarterbacks Noah Methvin and Owens kept the momentum going for the Volunteers. Methvin did it on both sides of the ball, making tackles and collecting two sacks. He also rushed for two touchdowns.
"It's fun to go out on defense and have different situations to get involved," Methvin said. "Instead of reading the defense, I get to be on defense and think about what they should do and be able to counteract well."
East Webster coach Ron Price said Starkville Academy's bounce-back effort wasn't surprising and that the reality has set in for his team, which slipped to 3-1.
"We came in confident in being undefeated and Starkville Academy brought us back to reality," Price said. "From start to finish, all of their guys played outstanding football. Their offensive line whipped our defense. Their defense whipped our offense. Hopefully this is a wake-up call and it shows we can still improve."
Starkville Academy will play Friday at Magnolia Heights.
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