By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
MOOREVILLE – Mantachie head coach Lynn Moore cannot be blamed for not knowing when his school defeated Mooreville in football previously.
After all, he is in his first year at the Itawamba County school.
“But, I know the last time they beat them. It was 2012,” the veteran Moore said.
Riding the momentum of two big plays, the Mustangs held on Friday for a 20-14 victory over the rival Troopers. And perhaps just as important, Mantachie notched a 2-3A win.
“This was a great high school football game,” Moore said. “I kept the team on the field after the game just to soak in the moment because they worked so hard to get here.”
The first big play for the Mustangs (4-4, 1-1) was the second snap from scrimmage, which got past Mooreville freshman QB Tay Rucker. The ball wound up in the end zone, and Cole Stephens landed dove on it to give the Mustangs the early advantage.
The contest settled into a hard-hitting rivalry for the remainder of the first half. That set up an entertaining third quarter.
Mantachie’s Hunter Holland took the second-half kick and raced up the middle, then veered to the right, completing an 86-yard TD return for a 14-0 lead.
But Mooreville was up to the challenge out of the locker room.
A 21-yard run by Channing Mitchell for Mooreville set up a 44-yard scoring burst up the middle by Ben Johnson the first time the Troopers touched the football.
The second time Mooreville touched the ball, Johnson backed up a 23-yard run with a 5-yard score that knotted the contest at 14-14.
Despite the big plays by Mantachie, perhaps the most important series of the contest was the last scoring drive.
Responding to the pair of Mooreville scores, Mantachie went on a 10-play, 67-yard drive. Quarterback Dustin Carrell hit Cody Chatham for a 24-yard score on the final play of the drive, giving the visitors a six-point margin late in the third quarter.
Mooreville never threatened in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t play well enough to win, and I’m bad disappointed in our team,” Mooreville head coach Kevin Austin said.