By Zach Adams/The Itawamba County Times
FULTON – With star running back and safety Ashton Shumpert on the shelf due to an illness, Itawamba AHS needed to lean on another senior standout in Friday’s opener against Saltillo.
Charles Moore answered the call and rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries as the Indians fought past the Tigers 17-7 in a defensive struggle.
“Ashton is a great player who makes us all better, even when he is on the sidelines,” said Moore, who rushed for over 1,300 yards in 2011. “I want to do good for my team. I think I took a couple of steps back in the first quarter, but I tried to come back after that and do better.”
After trading punts to open the game, the Indians put together nice drive after a 35-yard Peyton Green punt return set them up on the Saltillo 43. Seven plays later Moore burst into the end zone from 10 yards out for the first score of the game.
Another Moore touchdown in the second, this time from 3 yards out, as well as a 27-yard Tyler Dossett field goal in the closing seconds, put Itawamba up 17-0 at the half.
The third quarter saw both teams struggle, but midway through the fourth Saltillo made its move.
Quarterback Andrew Soper led his team on a nine-play, 55-yard drive capped off by a 8-yard touchdown strike to running back Demontarius Irby.
Down by 10, the Tigers went for the onside kick and got it when Jaquoyle Pounds made a heads-up play for the recovery.
It was not to be, however, as Green picked off Soper on the very next play that ended Saltillo’s momentum.
“One word explains this game, and that is sloppy,” said Itawamba head coach Toby Collums. “We won the game, but we didn’t execute in any phase of the game. We missed too many tackles, and too many opportunities.”
Itawamba hopes to have Shumpert back next week as they travel to New Albany to face the Bulldogs. Saltillo, meanwhile will look to bounce back as they host Mooreville.