October 7, 2017 5:20:20 PM
From Special Reports
GREENVILLE -- Two incompletions and a 30-yard pass allowed on Greenville's first offensive play of the game were the catalyst for the quick 8-0 deficit Starkville High School gave itself on the road at Greenville.
Then the Yellow Jacket onslaught began.
Starkville scored at will beginning midway through the first quarter, hanging seven first-half touchdowns on Greenville to run away with a 61-14 win in a Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A, Region 2 contest.
"We were out of school Friday so it was an unusual day," Starkville coach Chris Jones said. "When you have distractions like that, and a three-hour road trip, you simply want to get there and play the game. It's important to start strong. We got some things going there late in the first quarter and really had a good win."
Starkville (7-1, 3-0 region) returns home to face Madison Central (6-1, 3-0) Friday night in a huge showdown for first place in the region.
Much like the Northwest Rankin game a week before, the Starkville passing attack took center stage, but did so in even more dramatic fashion with six touchdown passes, all but one of them in the first two half. Starkville's other two scores were of the non-offensive variety, a 79-yard punt return by Natrone Brooks and a 20-yard fumble recovery return by Atavius Jones.
"We are clicking on both sides of the ball right now," Jones said. "Our defense is playing well and we are getting contributions from a lot of different guys. I thought we were really focused and that is more important when you are on the road."
The game's one-sided nature turned into the majority of the pass attempts going to backup quarterback Luke Altmyer, who completed 14 of his 17 passes for 122 yards and two scores. Starting quarterback Malik Brown was the one that put the game out of reach with four touchdowns on 6-of-8 passing for 108 yards.
Only one receiver caught more than two passes: Cameron Gardner, who caught three for 49 yards and two touchdowns. Three Yellow Jackets receivers have more than 40 yards -- Cameron Hines and Malik McBride joined Gardner -- but none had more than 50. A total of 14 players caught passes for Starkville.
The Yellow Jackets merely needed 330 yards of offense to score 61 points. The non-offensive scores helped, but the fumbles that killed Greenville drives may have helped more. Jones, Jalil Clemons and Seth Prewitt forced fumbles with Josh Lawrence and Caleb Stewart joining Jones in recovering one fumble each. Starkville had seven tackles for loss and three sacks (two TFL for Clemons with one sack).
Rodrigues Clark ran for 105 of Starkville's 123 rushing yards on 14 carries and scored a touchdown late in the second quarter, Starkville's final score of the first half.
"Madison Central has a great football team," Jones said."We feel like we are playing for the region championship Friday night. Personally, I think our region is the SEC of high school football. There are a lot of good teams. You have to be ready to play each week.
"However, Friday is critical. Madison Central will be a huge challenge. You win games like that by having a great week of preparation."
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