The yellow vests fight against mistakes to shut out the Falcons
STARKVILLE – No coach likes losing games, but all coaches like to have specific things they can point out that need improvement in training.
That’s the position Starkville High School football coach Chris Jones finds himself in this week, as the Yellow Jackets’ 28-0 win over Columbus on Friday night does not reflect the problems they had throughout the game.
“We didn’t play well, but we’re young,” Jones said. “We just sloppy a little. We probably had more penalty yards than rushing or passing yards.
Jones is exaggerating, but only because sophomore Tyler Nichols ran 28 and 42 yards in the first half and finished with 16 carries for 118 yards. Even with that, the Yellow Jackets’ rushed game totaled 179 yards, a solid effort, but only 24 yards more than the 155 penalty yards.
“It’s tough to do when you keep shooting yourself in the foot,” Jones said of Starkville’s 15 penalties, including six for 75 yards in the last 8 minutes of the first half. “And we shot each other a lot. Thank goodness this is the first game.
Meanwhile, the Falcons also had problems in Game 1, not the least of which was inexperience. While Starkville only returned six starters, Columbus’ passing game was marked by dropped passes and poor communication.
“We knew we were inexperienced at receivers and quarterback,” Falcons coach Joshua Pulphus said. “We left a lot of balls there. We missed a few balls that we should have caught, we had some communication issues, but we just need to sort it out and be ready to come back next week.
Their other problem was Starkville’s defense, which pulled off several big plays in key situations. The Falcons only converted one of five fourth down games, and it was on an offside penalty against the Yellow Jackets. Starkville recorded three interceptions and recovered a fumble on a back pass.
To make matters worse for the visitors, two of those turnovers came immediately after Starkville’s touchdowns, removing any chance to respond. The first was a 2-yard flurry from Nichols to cap off a 12-play, 73-yard workout covering the first and second quarters which was highlighted by a 23-yard pass through the middle from Trey Petty to Jaylon York and a run from 28 yards by Nichols who started possession.
The second came faster, as Nichols’ 42-yard rush set up a 4-yard-by-Petty goalie that gave the Yellow Jackets a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
Petty shared quarterback duties with senior Jaquez Harris, and while neither had a standout game, both showed flashes of the talent that made Jones play them both.
“I think they both did well,” said the fifth-year coach. “Trey adds another dimension; when things go down he has climbing and play-making ability. I thought Quez did well too, but at the end of the day you need to fix some things up front to give them enough time to make a few passes downstream.
Petty completed 3 of 10 passes for 52 yards while rushing for 33 yards, while Harris finished 5 of 9 for 24 yards, his total injured by a 16-yard pass loss to the screen in the second practice. of Starkville. But more importantly, their only turnover was an interception on fourth base that let the Falcons start on their own 8-yard line.
But Columbus quarterback Omari Williams had a tougher night, logging 11 times on 31 attempts for 69 yards with all three picks. But Williams deserved a better fate; several of his target throws were dropped or simply bounced off the chest of receivers.
These issues helped keep the Falcons off the scoreboard.
“Our offense did a good job of getting football moving, but we have to make these games,” Pulphus said. “It’s something that we talked about, making these plays in training and making these plays in games. This is something we did not do. We haven’t finished the trips.
Three of these records stood out. At the end of the first quarter, the Falcons covered 50 yards, evidenced by a third 16-yard pass from Williams to Courtavien Clark. But two failures, a hold call and a drunken run without a gain forced a punt.
Halfway through the third quarter, after Lezerek Brown’s 23-yard run that gave the Yellow Jackets a 21-0 lead, the Falcons, aided by a face mask and holding penalties over Starkville, went up on their own. 20 at Jackets ’14. But on the fourth down, Williams was sacked for a 6-yard loss by sophomore Jermar McCarter.
Then, as they were just trying to avoid a shutout, the Falcons put together a 13-game workout that stalled at Starkville 37 when a Williams pass deflected from Curtis Willis and is in York’s hands for the final interception. Petty was left to drop to one knee to close the shutout.
“A great job from the defense, but really sloppy,” Jones said. “We have a few pieces, but we have to keep improving, and I think we will improve. I look forward to the future.
“I’m not going to say the stage was too big, but we didn’t handle it the right way,” Pulphus said. “We have a lot to build on, and I promise you – I promise you – Next Friday against Southaven we will be better offensively, better defensively and better on special teams. I promise you.
Starkville 28, Columbus 0
Columbus (0-1) 0 0 0 0 – 0
Starkville (1-0) 0 14 7 7 – 28
Tyler Nichols 2 run (Josh Eaves kick), 8:26
Trey Petty 4 run (Josh Eaves kick), 5:54
Lezerek Brown 23 run (Josh Eaves kick) 5:08
Braylon Burnside 27 interception return (Josh Eaves kick) 5:15