By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – The Northeast Tigers had more than enough first game nerves and rust Thursday to go around.
The Tigers also had enough defense and quality plays, downing the East Central Warriors 40-27 in the season opener for both squads.
“Our defense did a tremendous job, and played well at times,” Northeast coach Ricky Smither said. “But it was also a sloppy game, and we showed no sense of urgency at times.”
With eight starters returning, the Tigers defense was being counted on heavily entering the 2011 season, and their contribution was significant right away. In the first quarter, linebacker Courtney Sutton scooped up a fumble and rambled 16 yards to begin the Tigers scoring for the season.
That was the first of six turnovers the Tigers forced. That was also the first of two defensive touchdowns as the Northeast defense totaled 14 points by itself.
The second quarter saw the Northeast offense join the party as quarterback Bryan Steele made a nice run fake, and rolled right. From there, he found Donte Barksdale, who made a nice stop-and-go himself to complete a 65-yard touchdown.
Steele, a sophomore, wound up throwing for 94 yards while sharing the signal calling with Parks Frazier. A freshman, Frazier totaled 86 yards passing, including the next Northeast score, a 24-yard catch in the end zone by Tres Houston.
The Tigers defense added a safety later in the half, and Northeast closed the half with a 20-yard field goal by Taylor Earhart to take a 26-7 halftime lead.
A second defensive touchdown started the second half for Northeast as Baldwyn’s Devin Lindsey returned a fumble 19 yards. Later in the third period, Parks added a second TD, this time on a 7-yard strike to Markie Dukes from Oxford.
Northeast continues its season-opening homestand, hosting Southwest Thursday.
Hinds 44, ICC 24
RAYMOND – Jeremy Palmer rushed for 154 yards and two TDs as Hinds opened the season with a 44-24 win over Itawamba Community College.
Hinds led 24-3 at halftime. Darren Daniel rallied ICC for three third-quarter touchdowns, on an 84-yard pass to Terrell Pinson and a pair of scoring runs (1, 17).
Hinds put the game out of reach with a pair of fourth-quarter TDs, capped by a 39-yard Palmer run.
ICC’s Daniel completed 10 of 28 passes for 157 yards and had two passes picked off. He also led the Indians with 13 carries for 96 yards.
The Indians open their home schedule next Thursday against Pearl River.