Indians blank Ripley in opener

By SCOTTY NICHOLS
Sports Editor

FULTON – Last Friday’s opening night on the gridiron was

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM IAHS's Jaden Smith (1) returns an interception during the first half of last Friday's win over the Ripley Tigers, as Caleb Whittle (2) helps block. Smith finished the night with an interception and a 30-yard touchdown reception from Austin King, while Whittle finished with two interceptions and hauled in an 87-yard touchdown pass.

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM
IAHS’s Jaden Smith (1) returns an interception during the first half of last Friday’s win over the Ripley Tigers, as Caleb Whittle (2) helps block. Smith finished the night with an interception and a 30-yard touchdown reception from Austin King, while Whittle finished with two interceptions and hauled in an 87-yard touchdown pass.

pushed back from its original start time, from 7:00 to 7:30, after a black raincloud popped up just south of Indian Stadium.

The rain came, which was heavy but not a threat in itself, but the lightning that followed forced fans and players out of the stadium for a 30-minute delay.

The delay and wet field conditions affected players from both the homestanding Itawamba AHS Indians and the visiting Ripley Tigers early, but one was able to gain its composure where the other was not.

After a sloppy first quarter full of turnovers and mishaps, the Indians kicked it in gear during the second quarter.

The Indian road-graters on the offensive line helped to formally introduce sophomore tailback Lamarcus Rhodes, who finished the second quarter with 40 rushing yards on seven attempts, and also cleared a path for senior quarterback Austin King to cap off a drive for the first score of the season with a one-yard touchdown plunge less than two minutes into the second quarter, which was kickstarted by an interception by Caleb Whittle.

Skylar Grissom added the extra point to give IAHS a 7-0 lead.

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM IAHS's Krayshawn Middlebrook (24), Vince Hughes (40) and Jamal Shumpert (32) take down Ripley wide receiver Isaiah Godwin during last Friday's opening night win over the Tigers.

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM
IAHS’s Krayshawn Middlebrook (24), Vince Hughes (40) and Jamal Shumpert (32) take down Ripley wide receiver Isaiah Godwin during last Friday’s opening night win over the Tigers.

The Indian defense continued to pour on the pressure and keep Ripley off the scoreboard while their offense successfully figured things out.

Jaden Smith had already picked off a Tiger pass, to go along with Whittle’s, and Colbe Hodges recovered a fumble at the IAHS 14, which stalled Ripley’s first positive drive.

The Indians initially shot themselves in the foot on the ensuing drive, when a reverse pitch exchange from King to Mylon Harris was mishandled. Harris managed to corral the loose ball, but was hauled down inside the five, giving IAHS a third and 16 just outside their own goal line.

Forced to throw, King stepped back into his own endzone and fired a bullet downfield, where Harris made a great catch and burned the defense for a 56-yard pickup and a first down in Ripley territory.

Two plays later, King fired a dart to Smith, who made a phenomenal catch on a tipped ball, for a 30-yard scoring strike.

Grissom’s extra point put IAHS up 14-0 with just over three minutes to go in the half.

The Indians carried a two-touchdown lead into the second half, where it would remain until Whittle made his token huge play with 1:06 left in the third quarter.

The explosive IAHS senior wideout took a screen pass from King, shook one defender, and was then off to the races down the sideline for an 87-yard touchdown reception.

The Indians would tack on another score in the final quarter, when Rhodes would be rewarded for his hard-nosed running with a one-yard touchdown run with 8:32 left in the game.

The defense would finish their shutout and give the Indians a 28-0 decision for a huge week one win.

“This is a solid team win,” said IAHS head coach Clint Hoots.

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM IAHS sophomore tailback Lamarcus Rhodes prepares to run through a pair of Ripley defenders. Rhodes finished his first start with 91 yards on 19 carries, and also scored a touchdown.

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM
IAHS sophomore tailback Lamarcus Rhodes prepares to run through a pair of Ripley defenders. Rhodes finished his first start with 91 yards on 19 carries, and also scored a touchdown.

“We made plays on both sides of the ball. We weren’t perfect, but we’re extremely pleased with this effort in the first week of the season.”

The IAHS defense held Ripley to just 209 total yards on offense, and tallied five takeaways.

Whittle picked off two passes, Smith had one interception, and Hodges added an interception and a fumble recovery.

Offensively, IAHS used a fairly balanced approach, netting 421 yards of total offense (278 passing, 143 rushing) and only turning the ball over once.

King finished 8-of-12 passing for 278 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and also added 36 rushing yards and a score on 11 carries.

Whittle only pulled in three passes, but finished with 123 receiving yards including the 87-yard touchdown.

Rhodes concluded the night with 91 rushing yards on 19 carries and a touchdown, to lead the ground attack.

“That first quarter was sloppy for both teams,” said Ripley head coach Chad Cook. “Itawamba got it together in the second half, and we never could. Hats off to them, because they were the better team tonight.”

IAHS looks to keep rolling next week when they pay a visit to the New Albany Bulldogs. Kickoff is set for 7:00.

 

scotty.nichols@journalinc.com
Twitter: ScotNic24

About Scotty Nichols

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

, ,