By Paul Jones/Special to the Journal
STARKVILLE – If Starkville is to earn a repeat visit to the Class 5A state championship game, that journey will follow a familiar script.
The Jackets fell to Noxubee County on Friday night 29-8 and dropped their third straight season opener to the rival Tigers.
Noxubee County rolled behind the shifty running moves of senior tailback Darrell Robinson and a dominating defensive performance by senior defensive end Dylan Bradley.
“Absolutely no excuses,” said Starkville head coach Jamie Mitchell. “Noxubee County lined up and whipped our rear ends. They were clearly the better football team and I don’t know if we will play a better defense than that. I hope not.
“There are no excuses but we got to get better and we will get better.”
Robinson finished the night with 194 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Meanwhile, Bradley had four sacks and numerous quarterback hurries as well. Bradley also got involved on offense with a first-half TD reception.
Bradley and his defensive mates kept Starkville senior quarterback and Mississippi State commit Gabe Myles bottled up the entire game.
Myles finished just 1 of 13 passing for six yards and carried 19 times for zero yards. As a whole, the Jackets only had 81 yards of offense for the game.
“There was nothing there offensively,” said Mitchell. “We couldn’t protect (Myles) and we couldn’t run the football. That is about as frustrating as I’ve been in a long time. There was absolutely nowhere to go with the ball and nothing but credit to those guys.”
The Jackets struggled offensively the entire first half and managed just 43 yards of total offense in the first two quarters. Starkville did move the ball inside the Tigers’ 30 in the first half only to be denied when Myles mistakingly spiked the ball to stop the clock on fourth-and-one.
Robinson helped the Tigers take a quick 6-0 lead via a 61-yard TD scamper on the game’s second play from scrimmage. Robinson ended the first half with 107 yards rushing on nine carries.
After Starkville got a safety, Noxubee County responded with another score – 12-yard TD pass from DeAngelo Ballard to Bradley – and took a 14-2 lead at the half.