By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Tupelo, a seven-loss team a year ago, reached seven wins Friday night with its 41-0 victory against Horn Lake.
However, it looks like the Golden Wave is going to need eight victories to continue its season.
The postseason picture will definitely be settled next week when first-year coach David Bradberry’s Tupelo team travels to Olive Branch for its Division 1-6A finale.
“We wanted to win this one … we had to,” Bradberry said. “Next week it’s either win or go home, that’s it.”
The Golden Wave (7-2, 4-2), Olive Branch, Southaven and Starkville all entered Friday’s play with 3-2 records in division play. Tupelo owns a head-to-head tiebreaker against Southaven, but not against Starkville.
“We’ve been told we’ve got to win to get in the playoffs,” Tupelo quarterback Luke Hobson said. “That’s what we plan on doing … winning.”
Tupelo was powered by the usual suspects against Horn Lake – Hobson, tailback Ashton Shumpert and wide receiver Terrell Pinson.
Shumpert rushed for 172 yards on 20 carries and scored three touchdowns, one on a 76-yard punt return in the third quarter. His rushing TDs went for 1 and 5 yards.
Hobson completed 6 of 9 passes for 101 yards and three touchdowns – all in the first half – to give his team a 27-0 lead at the break.
Pinson caught four passes for 73 yards and two touchdowns.
Tupelo’s defense, which was replaced in the fourth quarter by reserves, intercepted four passes and held Horn Lake to under 150 yards total offense.
“We knew Horn Lake would throw a lot and they did,” Wave defensive coordinator Lamar Aldridge said. “We did a good job, but we’ll have to play with a lot more effort next week (against Olive Branch).”
Hobson’s first TD toss was a 28-yard strike to a diving Pinson in the end zone late in the first quarter.
Following a 1-yard dive by Shumpert to push Tupelo’s lead to 12-0 late in the second quarter, Hobson connected with Pinson and Matt McIntosh on back-to-back fades for the Wave’s four-touchdown lead.
The 6-point heave to Pinson was a 7-yarder while the scoring play to McIntosh covered 10 yards with 11.3 seconds remaining in the first half.
“When you’ve got two receivers with 38-inch verticals, it makes it easy to throw it to them,” Hobson said.
Tupelo intercepted Horn Lake quarterback Mac Cooley three times in the first half and turned two of the steals into points. Devonte Morris, McIntosh and Ladarius Watkins had the picks for the Golden Wave.
Reserve A.J. Hunt intercepted Cooley in the end zone on the game’s next to last play.
Horn Lake (2-8, 2-4) was held to 48 yards total offense in the first half.
Shumpert rushed for 98 yards on 16 carries in the first half as the Wave piled up 248 yards total offense.