By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
OXFORD – The Tupelo defense came prepared for the powerful Lafayette County running tandem of D.K. Buford and Brandon Mack.
Mack and Buford failed to score, but offensive mistakes cost the Golden Wave in Lafayette’s 8-3 win in the season opener for both teams. The two-time defending Class 4A champions extended their state-best winning streak to 33 games.
DeBrico Burgess picked off Tupelo starting quarterback Thomas Harris on the Wave’s first drive and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown just over a minute into the opening quarter.
“We worked our stack backer getting underneath (the receiver) and (Burgess) did exactly like he was coached to do in practice,” first-year Lafayette coach Eric Robertson said. “It was probably the biggest play of the game.”
The Commodores (1-0) extended their 6-0 lead on the first play of the following quarter. A high snap over Harris’s head rolled out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
“Offensively, I think we had the jitters when we started,” Golden Wave coach David Bradberry said. “We just had to kind of get our bearing on what we were doing.”
Tupelo’s offense got moving on its last drive of the first half. Two big passes by sophomore QB Alex Norwood set up a 40-yard field goal try by Drew White.
White’s kick was short, though, to allow Lafayette to hold its 8-0 lead at halftime.
Norwood continued his excellent play in the second half. A nice 36-yard run by Quinn Tiggs was followed with a 14-yard Norwood completion to Zach Johnson.
A holding penalty halted the drive, but White redeemed himself with a 50-yard field goal to cut Lafayette’s lead to 8-3 with 4:52 to go in the third.
Two drives later, Norwood set up another three-point opportunity with a 35-yard pass to Jarvis Wilson. White’s third attempt of the night, a 27-yarder, was wide right to keep the score 8-3.
Eating the clock
Buford and Mack drove the Commodores 74 yards and ate up more than four minutes of clock after the miss. Mack, Lafayette’s starting quarterback, finished with 129 yards on the ground while Buford had 113 yards on 19 carries.
Tupelo (0-1) got the ball back, but could only get one first down before turning the ball over on downs.
Norwood finished 8 of 12 passing for 127 yards in two quarters played.
“I thought as a sophomore, playing for the first time, he did some good things.” Bradberry said.