By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Tupelo bounced back from last week’s crushing 42-point loss at South Panola and moved one step closer to the postseason on Friday night.
The Golden Wave scored five first-half touchdowns – three by tailback Tenerious “T-Bone” Montgomery – and blasted visiting DeSoto Central 42-14 in a crucial Division 1-6A game.
Tupelo (5-4, 3-2) can clinch a state playoffs berth next week with a road win at Horn Lake. The Golden Wave’s final regular season game is Nov. 4 when it hosts Olive Branch.
“This is like the playoffs now … we had to win tonight,” Tupelo coach David Bradberry said. “We’re playing for a playoff spot, no doubt.”
Tupelo’s defense scored the first points with 7 minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the first quarter when strong safety Chaz Jones returned a pass interception 18 yards for a touchdown.
“Coach (Bradberry) said during practice they like to run the flat route,” Jones said. “The quarterback was looking dead at the receiver the whole time. I just took off when he threw it.”
The interception was one of four turnovers for DeSoto Central (4-5, 0-5) in the first half. The Jaguars committed six in the game.
Ashton Shumpert, who rushed for 88 yards on nine carries, gave the Golden Wave a 14-0 lead a few minutes later on a 2-yard run following a Tupelo fumble recovery at the Jaguars 15.
Montgomery then scored his three touchdowns – runs of 5, 14 and 24 yards – on consecutive possessions to give Tupelo a 35-0 halftime lead. He finished with 75 yards on eight carries. Shumpert set up Montgomery’s first TD with a 55-yard run.
“Tenerious stepped in and ran well,” Bradberry said. “He’s made some big runs this season.”
Tupelo’s lone miscue in the first half was a blocked 42-yard field goal attempt by Drew White, who kicked all five of the first-half extra points.
The Golden Wave’s reserves took the opening possession of the second half and marched 58 yards in 13 plays to paydirt. Sophomore running back Quinton Lauderdale scored the touchdown on a 2-yard run. William Bigham’s extra point gave Tupelo a 42-0 lead.
“That was a time-consuming drive, an important one to start the second half,” Bradberry said. “It’s big because it sets the tempo.”
DeSoto Central scored two touchdowns in the second half against the Golden Wave reserves.