November 4, 2017 11:39:13 PM
STARKVILLE -- The Starkville Academy football team turned in another stifling performance on defense Friday night in the second round of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) Class AAA playoffs.
Starkville Academy won by shutout for a second-straight round with a 30-0 victory against Central Hinds Academy at J.E. Logan Field.
"We have had five shutouts this season," Starkville Academy coach Chase Nicholson said. "When your defense plays like that, the offense has a job that is easier. Central Hinds likes to change formations. Our guys were really prepared for those changes, and we really adjusted during the game.
"I thought our game plan was outstanding. You know the kids are locked in when they played like that."
Starkville Academy (11-1) will play host to Adams County Christian (11-1) at 7 p.m. Friday for berth in the following week's state championship game. Both teams will enter the semifinal round matchup on nine-game winning streaks.
Against Central Hinds, Taylor Arnold had 19 rushes for 139 yards and a score. He topped the 1,000-yard mark and had a big hand in his team's 244-yard rushing performance.
"The energy level has really picked up for this team," Nicholson said. "Each week, the game is more important and the kids have really gotten more focused and played well. No one is complacent. They continue to work hard.
"The players know the situation we are in. They know how close we are in. We will stick with the same formula. We will try to continue to get better. That's the best thing about this team. Each week they have gotten better."
The scoring began in the second quarter when Ben Owens hit Raegan Richardson on a 29-yard touchdown. Cameron McKee followed with a 24-yard field goal to give the hosts a 10-0 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, a 9-yard run by Noah Methvin extended the lead. In the fourth quarter, Arnold scored on a 2-yard run and William Wolfe scored on a 16-yard run.
Central Hinds (8-4) was held to four first downs. Matt Miller and Will Miller led the way with a combined four tackles for loss. Kyle Faver added a sack.
Adams County Christian advanced with a 44-20 home victory against Heritage Academy. The Patriots finished the season with a 9-3 record.
n Pontotoc 6, New Hope 3: At Pontotoc, the Trojans saw their season end in the opening round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A playoffs.
"There were some bad calls," New Hope coach Kris Pickle said. "We normally don't complain about the officials, but we there were some game-changing calls that were difficult. We had a stop and the officials said we had 12 players on the field and we really only had 11 out there. We have the film. It was a tough night."
New Hope built a 3-0 halftime lead on a field goal by Daniel Bradley. The Trojans then missed out on a golden opportunity to extend the lead when they had to turn the ball over on downs at the Warriors' 4-yard line.
"We had some really good defensive stops," Pickle said. "The touchdown came after a fourth-down stop where we were called for hands to the face. Proud of the seniors for helping us get back in the playoffs. This was only our second game with Tyran (Reed) and Kyree (Fields) playing together.
"That was a huge boost. It led to a great week of practice. They bring a lot of energy and confidence out there. I was proud at how we played. We played with enthusiasm. We should have won the football game. The defensive coaches had a great plan. It was a tough loss."
Pontotoc (12-1) scored the only touchdown with nine minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Warriors best drive in the first half ended with a missed field goal try from 31 yards out.
n West Lowndes 36, Sebastopol 18: At Columbus, the Panthers ended the season with back-to-back wins in MHSAA Class 1A, Region 3 play.
On Senior Night, Quinshawn Lucious topped the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards and also threw a touchdown.
The scoring started early on a 65-yard punt return touchdown by Quay Sanders, who also caught a touchdown pass from Quinshawn Lucious, rushed for a score and returned the punt.
Travion Lucious and Chayil Phinizee added rushing scores for the Panthers (3-7, 2-6).
On defense, the Panthers received two interceptions from Cordarius McGee and one from Kentrell Guyton.
n Hamilton 16, Vardaman 6: At Vardaman, the Lions finished the season with a big road win, but they didn't win by a large enough margin to qualify for the MHSAA Class 1A playoffs.
Hamilton (5-6, 4-4) finished in a three-way for the final playoff spot of Region 3. However, the Lions had to win by 12 or more points to earn the tie-breaking nod for a playoff berth.
Hamilton scored on a fumble return touchdown in the first half and led 8-0 at halftime. Bryant Butler scored on a quarterback keeper in the third quarter. The Lions had one final drive late but a defensive stop there allowed the Rams to secure the final playoff nod.
n West Memphis (Arkansas) 49, Columbus Christian 0: At West Memphis, Arkansas, the Rams saw their season with a first-round loss in the MAIS Class A playoffs.
Columbus Christian concludes the season with a 2-8 record.
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