By Zach Adams/The Itawamba County Times
FULTON – When the undefeated Itawamba AHS Indians hosted Okolona for homecoming on Friday night, all eyes were on Ashton Shumpert.
To the delight of a raucous crowd that included Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen, the senior running back and safety did not disappoint. He rushed for 196 yards and three touchdowns on offense, and also contributed 3 tackles and an interception on defense as the Indians turned away the visiting Chieftains, 55-0.
“The game went well for the most part, but we came out slow and had a couple of mistakes early,” Shumpert said of his first home game as an Indian since his freshman season. “We came back strong in the second half. … It feels great to be back.”
IAHS (5-0) got off to a rocky start, held back by penalties and an early fumble.
Despite the early hiccups, however, the Indians got on the board when Charles Moore gashed the Okolona defense for a 16-yard touchdown run with 2:54 left in the first quarter.
Moore, the thunder to Shumpert’s lightning, finished the game with 8 carries for 142 yards and a score.
Shumpert got rolling in the second quarter when he scored on runs of 21 and 4 yards as the Indians pulled away.
QB Tyler Dossett later hit Lafayette County transfer Rico Burgess for an 18-yard strike in the corner of the end zone to put Itawamba up 27-0 at the break.
Okolona (2-4) was never able to get anything going offensively as penalties and a smothering Itawamba defensive line kept the Chieftains on their heels all night.
Another Dossett to Burgess touchdown connection, this one from 32 yards out, opened the third quarter.
The play of the game, perhaps, came later in the third when Shumpert was seemingly tackled, but somehow kept his balance and sprinted 56 yards for his third score.
Junior Braxton West capped it with two late TD runs of 4 and 1 yard.
“I thought early on with played sloppy, especially on offense,” said Itawamba coach Toby Collums. “We may have got caught looking ahead, but I thought we came out in the second half with a little better focus.”
The Indians finished the game with 508 yards total offense, while Okolona managed only 43.