By Paul Jones/Special to the Journal
STARKVILLE – Callaway entered Friday’s matchup at Starkville with no postseason hopes or a shot at a winning season.
But they did have Starkville’s attention and focus – and that was a good thing for the Yellowjackets.
Starkville held off a determined Callaway team 35-21 for a sixth straight victory. The Jackets moved to 8-2 overall and 6-0 in Division 1-5A, clinching at least a share of the division title.
“I told our coaches on Sunday after watching film that I thought Callaway was the second-best team in our division,” said Starkville head coach Jamie Mitchell. “I don’t care what their record is because they’ve got players. Our guys were ready to play tonight and I thought we played okay.
“We just had tons of mistakes on offense, though, and we have to get better at that. We are 10 games into the season now and that should not be happening.”
Starkville jumped to a 21-7 lead at the break thanks to a pair of touchdown passes from junior Gabe Myles to fellow classmate Devin Mitchell. Mitchell then scored on the Jackets’ opening drive of the second half to push their lead to 28-7.
However, Callaway rallied behind the rushing of senior tailback Daryl Jones, Jr., and sophomore quarterback T.J. Washington. Jones collected 149 yards on the ground while Washington scored touchdowns on back-to-back drives to cut Starkville’s lead to 28-21 early in the fourth quarter.
Starkville managed to put the game away though with Preston Baker’s three-yard touchdown run with just five minutes left in regulation.
On the night, Mitchell had four catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns, and had over 215 yards of total offense.
His 91-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter was the third-longest pass play in Jackets’ history. Meanwhile, Myles completed 11 of 18 for 272 yards and two touchdowns.
“He has been huge for us the last month,” said Mitchell of Devin Mitchell. “He has developed into such a weapon for us. He makes plays out of the backfield, in the passing game and on special teams.”
And like all good skill players, Devin Mitchell gave credit due to the guys in the trenches.
“It all started with the offensive line and I couldn’t have done anything without them,” said Mitchell. “I give all the credit to them. They blocked for me and I produced for them and that is what I am here to do.”