STARKVILLE — Dominating defensive performances seem to be a recurring theme for the Starkville Academy football team.
After snapping a 20-game winless streak and going on to win three games last season, the Volunteers have reached that mark in only the third week of the season. Starkville Academy attained the mark thanks to a 22-0 victory against Magnolia Heights on Friday night.
“It is good to have things turned around, but there is no such thing as perfect football,” Starkville Academy second-year coach Jeff Terrill. “We are excited to be in the position we are in, but there are things we take away from this game and see we can improve.”
Starkville Academy took the opening drive almost 50 yards before Jonathan Burton converted a 29-yard field goal to give the Volunteers a 3-0 lead.
Following the field goal, the teams exchanged a series of punts before running back Colby Runnels provided a spark. Runnels (13 carries, game-high 123 yards) took a draw 47 yards to set up an 18-yard score by James Mapp that gave Starkville Academy a 9-0 lead with 9 minutes, 36 seconds remaining in the half.
The Volunteers tacked on one more score after junior quarterback Drew Pellum took the team 50 yards in five plays in less than a minute. He used a pair of completions to wide receiver Hunter Bolin to set up a 10-yard scoring pass to Bolin that extended the margin to 15-0 going into halftime.
“Magnolia Heights had a great strategy coming into this game and give them credit for their effort,” Terrill said. “We battled and every time we made a mistake we countered with a strong response and that is all I can ask from these young men.”
An uneventful third quarter featured numerous punts, but a shift in momentum appeared to be lurking as Magnolia Heights faced first-and-goal, but the Volunteers held and forced a turnover on downs with a sack.
On the next drive, Starkville Academy responded with a strong two-man rushing attack by Ryan Mann (seven carries, 47 yards) and Runnels. Runnels capped the drive with an 8-yard touchdown that accounted for the final margin.
Magnolia Heights took the ensuing kickoff 56 yards, but Starkville Academy”s defense responded again and forced another turnover on downs, which allowed the Volunteers to run out the clock and improve to 3-0.
“It really seemed like those last two Mag Heights drives they were really trying to steal the momentum we built up,” Terrill said. “Give the defense the credit, though, even with their backs against the wall we never gave up and we earned this victory because Magnolia Heights is a good football team.”
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.