Wildcats maul Indians in round one of playoffs

By SCOTTY NICHOLS
Sports Writer

FULTON – The Itawamba AHS Indians did enough to earn a home playoff contest in the first

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM Russell Bunch fights to stay on his feet after making a reception during the first quarter of Friday night's playoff game against Louisville.

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM
Russell Bunch fights to stay on his feet after making a reception during the first quarter of Friday night’s playoff game against Louisville.

round of the MHSAA class 4A state playoffs, but they drew a tough opponent out of one of the toughest divisions in the state.
The Louisville Wildcats, tied for second in Mississippi with seven state championship titles, invaded Indian Stadium last Thursday night with aspirations of chasing No. 8, and took the first step by knocking off IAHS, 36-9.
The Indians struck first, as an 80-yard drive ended when Bo Sarrie drove home a 24-yard field goal to give IAHS a 3-0 lead after the first quarter.
Louisville quickly responded with a lengthy drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Kendrick Holmes to put the Wildcats up 7-3.
Louisville forced a punt on the next IAHS possession and ended the ensuing drive with a 41-yard field goal by Corey McCullough to extend the lead to 10-3.
IAHS was still in good shape, for the moment, but a controversial call on the very next play from scrimmage began what would be the unraveling by the seams of the home team.
The Indians took over on their own 26 following the kickoff and quarterback Vijay Miller tried to get Hunter White, who was lined up in the slot, the ball on a screen pass.
What appeared to be an incomplete pass was never whistled dead by the officials, and a Louisville defender picked the ball up and jogged into the end zone, where a touchdown was then signaled.
After the extra point sailed through the uprights, the Wildcats led 17-3 at the 5:04 mark and it was if the life had been sucked out of the home side of the stadium.
IAHS struggled to generate offensive production for the rest of the half, and Louisville tacked on another touchdown with a one-yard run by quarterback Pervis Frazier to give the Wildcats a commanding 24-3 lead at the half.
The second half was much the same story, as Louisville added touchdowns in each of the final two quarters to extend their lead to 36-3.
IAHS looked discombobulated after the questionable no-call in the second quarter and failed to get back on the scoreboard until only 1:30 was left in the game, when Miller broke loose and scored on a 31-yard run to make the final score 36-9. Louisville moves on to face Greenwood in round two.

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM Jamal Shumpert runs through a Louisville tackler for a big gain in the first quarter of last Friday night's playoff game.

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM
Jamal Shumpert runs through a Louisville tackler for a big gain in the first quarter of last Friday night’s playoff game.

The Indians caught a few tough breaks, but none was bigger than the crucial scoop and score that put them down by two possessions in the middle of the second quarter.
The Wildcats used the momentum and snowballed it into more points, while IAHS couldn’t do much more than watch it unfold.
“That play was very unfortunate for us,” IAHS coach Clint Hoots said after the game. “The way that play is designed, it’s a forward pass. Our guys knew it and walked back to the huddle, but they had a guy pick up the ball and it turned out well for them.”
Miller completed 10-of-14 passes for 134 yards and added the 31-yard rushing score in his final game as an Indian, while White turned in an admirable performance with 93 rushing yards on 17 carries and four catches for 44 yards to finish his senior campaign.
Caleb Whittle hauled in two passes for 26 yards and Russell Bunch also caught two balls for 24 yards.
The Indians finish the 2015 season with a 7-4 record under Hoots’s first year as head coach, and made a playoff appearance for the tenth consecutive season.
Miller completed 143-of-230 pass attempts on the season (62%) for 2,410 yards and 23 touchdowns, while adding another 540 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.
White reached the 1,000-yard mark rushing for the third consecutive year, racking up 1,031 yards on 177 attempts with 12 touchdowns. White also added 22 receptions for 314 yards and another touchdown.
Ha’kee Rainey finished the season with 68 rushes for 570 yards and a touchdown to go along with 35 receptions for 403 yards and five touchdowns.
Miller distributed the ball to multiple receivers on the season, led by Caleb Whittle, who had 38 receptions for 935 yards and six touchdowns.
Senior Taylor Mears pulled in 22 catches for 355 yards and seven touchdowns, while Russell Bunch snagged 12 balls for 213 yards and five touchdowns.
Defensively, linebackers Daniel Freppon and Jamal Shumpert were standouts, as Freppon recorded 177 total tackles on the season, followed by Shumpert with 115.
The Indians return a solid core unit and should be very competitive again in 2016.

scotty.nichols@journalinc.com
Twitter: @ScotNic24

About Scotty Nichols

Graduate of THE University of Mississippi. #HottyToddy. I like sports. And BBQ.