By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
TUPELO – Tupelo Golden Wave senior kicker Reed Bigham has one of the biggest kickoffs in Mississippi.
He was one of the clutchest kickers on Friday night.
Bigham drilled a 38-yard field goal with less than a second on the clock to push the Golden Wave to a 20-17 victory over the Warren Central Vikings in a first-round Class 6A playoff game.
“I was just thinking of my fundamentals, getting the football through the uprights,” Bigham said. “We played as a team tonight.
“It’s really cool how we stuck together.”
The win pushes Tupelo (11-1) into the second round of the post-season for the first time since 2007. Tupelo will be on the road against Madison Central (9-3), a 35-13 winner over DeSoto Central.
A two-touchdown third quarter by Warren Central (8-4) that tied the contest at 17-17 propelled both squads into a tense fourth quarter.
The Vikings had Tupelo deep in its own territory, at one point as deep as the 7-yard line. But a booming 65-yard punt by Bigham moved the field position into a safer area for the Wave.
Following a Central punt, Tupelo was 67 yards away from the end zone for the winning points.
With quarterback Daniel Bristow completing four passes, and Quinn Tiggs rushing for 20 yards during the possession, Tupelo moved the football to the Vikings 21. There, Bigham did the rest, blasting the winning 38-yard kick.
“This was one of those games where everybody had to come in and contribute,” Tupelo head coach Trent Hammond said. “We live another game.
“We get to enjoy this for a few hours, then get back to work.”
The Wave enjoyed one of its best first two quarters of the season.
In the first period, Tiggs scored on a 2-yard dive, and Rodney McIntosh on a 54-yard pass play. The second period saw a 26-yard field goal by Jade Pollock set up by a fake punt, which Tupelo countered with a 40-yard Bigham field goal as time expired.
Warren Central came out of the locker room on fire, scoring on a 18-yard pass to Hunter Bell on a fake field goal, and a 40-yard pass to Chris Stamps.