By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Was it the new coach? Could it have been a change in uniforms?
Whatever the reason, the Mississippi Hound Dogs walked off the BancorpSouth Arena’s artificial turf with a new attitude Friday night – a winning attitude.
Jami Boland threw for seven touchdowns and the Hound Dogs defense was stifling as the home team – wearing their road whites – entered the United Indoor Football League’s win column for the first time with a 53-6 victory against the Rome (Ga.) Rampage.
“We didn’t have anything to lose,” said Boland, the Nettleton product, who completed 13 of 19 passes for 165 yards. “Our backs were against the wall. We just went out and played ball.”
Boland threw three touchdowns each to 6-foot-6 target Roderick Jefferson and 5-7 waterbug Reggie Ellis. Billy Dobbs caught Boland’s final scoring pass in the fourth quarter.
Eric Bingham, a veteran of Tupelo indoor football with playing stints for the former FireAnts and MudCats, took over as the Hound Dogs’ coach this week when Martino Theus was fired after the team’s 0-3 start.
“It was difficult coming in under these circumstances,” Bingham said. “Coach Theus is a friend of mine, a mentor. But it’s never been personal, it’s a business.”
Bingham’s defense held the visiting Rampage, which defeated the Hound Dogs 35-30 in the season opener, to 75 yards total offense. Of that total, 30 yards came on Rome’s final offensive possession.
“We finally have the right chemistry on defense,” Bingham said. “We’ve got the right mix.”
The Hound Dogs also intercepted three passes and recovered two fumbles. Arthur Williams intercepted two passes while linebacker Brandon Bruce added two fumble recoveries and scored a touchdown on a blocked field goal.
Rome scored its lone first-half TD on a 10-yard pass from Jamie White to Jeff Phillips. White and backup Jamaris Walden combined to complete 7 of 31 passes for 54 yards.
“The defense played outstanding,” Boland added. “It’s easy to play when you get good field position.”