Noxubee County senior Kyziah Pruitt stuff the stat sheet Friday night for the Tigers. Photo by: David Miller/Special to The Dispatch
October 14, 2018 12:46:29 AM
By DAVID MILLER
Special to The Dispatch
MACON - Noxubee County football coach Tyrone Shorter didn't need to see Kyziah Pruitt score four touchdowns Friday to know he was "back."
He'd seen it since Monday, the beginning of Pruitt's second full week of practice after injuring his foot in week 1. The affirmation felt good, though, both for an offense that had struggled periodically since Pruitt was hurt, and for the entire vibe of the team, Shorter said.
Pruitt scored a season's best four touchdowns Friday in a 62-27 win over Kosciusko. He ran for 123 yards on 12 carries while playing mostly at quarterback.
"It was just his presence," Shorter said. "The moment he was back on the field, everything was different. The kids depend on him. The kids are blocking better, blocking better downfield. Things are clicking."
It's important that things begin clicking and players start exhibiting a "playoff" mentality, Shorter said. Both he and Pruitt said it's business as usual for the Tigers, who play an incredibly challenging and often taxing non-conference schedule to prepare for district play.
"This is our time of the season, when the weather starts cooling off," Shorter said. "They're hungry for it."
The Tigers committed to Pruitt running at quarterback, and the decision reaped early benefits: Pruitt scored three rushing touchdowns on Noxubee's first four drives. Shorter said his offensive coaches didn't stay committed to it last week in a 27-26 district loss to Louisville.
"[Pruitt] was still a little bit timid on his foot last week, and he'd only had two days of practice," Shorter said. "But I was kind of ticked off at our offensive coaches last week ... for a quarter and a half, he didn't touch the ball. We wanted to make sure we got him going this week. He's one of the best players in the state - you got to put the ball in his hands. He's electrifying and makes things happen."
Pruitt ran with both speed and power Friday night. He ran wide and between the tackles. He played with burst, and his 60-yard touchdown catch shortly before halftime added an exclamation point to a dominant night of football. Kristopher White connected with Pruitt on a slant backside, and Pruitt turned, exploded up field and split three defenders. He ran untouched for the score.
"It feels good to be back," Pruitt said. "I give all the credit and honor to God, and all the guys blocking in front of me. I really enjoyed it. We were having fun tonight."
It was a fun night for Pruitt's teammates, too, as seven Tigers scored against Kosciusko (3-5, 2-1), including three on defense: Jaquaris Jamison scored on a 74-yard fumble return; Tyrese Hopkins scored on a 50-yard fumble return; and Keymarcus Jackson scored a 63-yard interception return late in the fourth quarter.
Pruitt said the win will have players on their "high horse" when they practice Monday.
"When everyone is feeling like they're the best player on the team, that's when we're gonna takeoff," Pruitt said. "We got to feel like that if we want to be a contender, if we want to be a winner."
The Tigers (4-5, 1-1) had their frustrating moments, too, including 16 penalties for 120 yards. And they gave up a handful of big plays, including a 77-yard touchdown pass that tied the game at 14. Shorter said his players have to be sharper by this point in the year - he noted three missed extra points and two failed red zone trips last week - but the Tigers are close, he said.
"Last week, we had that feeling and had a great game plan, but we didn't make enough plays," Shorter said. "But it's starting to come. The kids are approaching things different, and we're getting it in their minds - this is [now] the playoffs."
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