Tupelo Golden Wave gets help, reaches playoffs

OLIVE BRANCH – Olive Branch left no doubt they were the better team on the football team Friday night.
The Conquistadors defeated Tupelo 43-17 at Pool Field, but the Golden Wave still claimed a small victory after the game.
Columbus beat Starkville 28-26, and in the process sent Tupelo into the first round of the Class 6A playoffs next Friday night.
“We were just hoping to get into the playoffs,” said Tupelo head coach David Bradberry, “You always want another shot, we’re excited about it.
“We hope to get back and get a little bit healthier than we are, get refocused because I think we have a great opportunity ahead.”
Tupelo travels to Division 2-6A champion Madison Central next week in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs, kickoff is set for 7 pm.
Mistakes led to Tupelo’s first two scores.
On the opening kickoff, Devonte Morris recovered a fumble from Zarean Shipp to set the Wave up inside the red zone.
Tupelo (7-3, 4-3 in Division 1-6A) would have to settle for a Hunter Raines field goal to put the Golden Wave up 3-0.
After the Conquistadors put up 26 unanswered points, Devonte Quinn recovered another Olive Branch fumble at the six yard line.
Tupelo, tied for fourth in the Daily Journal’s Large Schools rankings, drove the ball 96 yards in 9 plays. Ashton Shumpert capped the drive with a three yard touchdown run, but the Wave trailed 26-10.
The Olive Branch defense held the talented Shumpert to only 65 yards on 16 carries.
Two touchdown passes gave Olive Branch their 12-3 lead after the first quarter. Todd Mays found Kadeem Cole (20 yards) and De Arthur Cowan (74 yards) for scoring strikes.
The Conquistadors (7-4, 5-2) showed their speed in the second quarter.
Adrian Brown returned a Drew White punt 70 yards for a score and Mays capped lengthy drives with touchdown runs of two and one yards, respectively, to put Olive Branch up 33-10 at halftime.
Mays outgained the entire Tupelo offense on the night. The junior had 263 total yards (138 rushing, 125 passing). For the game, Olive Branch outgained Tupelo 466-232.
“The personnel they have is exceptional,” Bradberry said, “I think they have many D-1 players. They’re a big physical bunch. But we knew that coming in.”
Olive Branch rounded out their scoring in the third quarter on a three yard touchdown run by Courtney Gladney and a field goal by John Pittman.
The Golden Wave scored late in the fourth quarter on a Devonte Rodgers two yard touchdown run for their final points.

Blake Long/Special to the Journal