By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Marvin Fairley’s big paw was the difference Friday night for Tupelo in its 28-27 Division 1-6A victory over Southaven.
The Golden Wave defensive lineman blocked an extra-point attempt by the Chargers midway in the fourth quarter, paving the way for Tupelo’s eventual go-ahead score and extra point.
“I went straight though the B gap and got back there quick,” the 6-foot-2, 210-pound defender said. “(Southaven) was a little slow placing the ball. I just got my hands up.”
Fairley’s block with 7 minutes, 58 seconds remaining, following a 60-yard TD run by Tadanus Underwood, meant Tupelo trailed by just six points, 27-21.
The Wave (4-3, 2-1) answered with a TD on its next possession. The score came on a 36-yard pass to Zach Johnson from Thomas Harris on a third-and-17 play. Johnson made the catch between two Southaven defenders.
“It was a post corner,” said Harris, who started his second straight game in the absence of an injured Luke Hobson. “I delivered it as good as I could.”
Drew White’s fourth straight extra point with 5:48 remaining gave Tupelo its 28-27 lead.
The Wave defense sealed the win on consecutive interceptions by Bryan Bruce, Dylan Vuncannon and Quinn Tiggs.
“That was a bunch of people playing tonight for Tupelo,” Wave head coach David Bradberry said. “They didn’t care about anything but winning this game.”
Tupelo struggled early offensively, going three-and-out on its first four possessions. That’s when Ashton Shumpert, who rushed for 143 yards and scored two TDs, replaced Harris at QB.
The move was productive for Tupelo on its final possession of the first half. Shumpert scored on a 1-yard run with 34 seconds remaining in the second quarter to cut the Chargers’ lead to 14-7.
Shumpert added a 29-yard TD run in the third quarter while Thomas returned to hook up with Josh Hamilton for an 80-yard pass and run.