By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
BELMONT – Booneville made its division results simple on Friday night.
The Blue Devils won 28-14 at Belmont to clinch the Division 1-3A regular season championship.
Booneville (8-2, 5-0) will host a first-round playoff game next week. No. 3 seed Belmont (6-3, 3-2) will be on the road.
Tied at 14 at the half, Booneville won with a pair of touchdowns off turnovers to open the second half.
“Our kids have been opportunistic all year,” Booneville coach Mike Mattox said. “They kept their heads up at halftime and battled back.”
Jordan Miller picked off Belmont quarterback Colin Harris and Booneville QB Jack Simpson capped a 56-yard drive with a 28-yard touchdown run
Daniel Calvery and Dylan Horn then recovered a Harris fumble at the Belmont 46 and Simpson found Andrew Lambert for an 11-yard touchdown and a 28-14 lead after the second of Eric Benitez’s point-after kicks.
Lambert picked Harris on a jump ball in the fourth, Belmont’s fourth turnover. Booneville lost three turn-overs.
“Booneville always capitalizes on mistakes,” Belmont coach Kerry Moody said. “I’m very proud of our kids. We just didn’t catch the breaks in the second half like we did the first half.”
Booneville scored first on a 13-yard run from Dejesuse Rogers for a 6-0 lead. Rogers finished the game with 167 yards on 31 carries. Simpson had 93 on 17 carries and accounted for three scores.
Belmont’s Pat Gilley returned the kick 46 yards and fullback Alexander Fancher scored on a 5-yard run. Chase Shumaker’s point after gave Belmont a 7-6 lead.
Corey Hogan picked Simpson on Booneville’s next possession and went 56 yards for a 14-6 lead but Booneville drove 93 yards to close the half and Jazz Prather caught a pass from Simpson and juked his way to a 26-yard touchdown. Rogers ran in the two points. Hogan nearly had a pick to end the drive a play before the score.
“We knew Belmont was going to play hard,” Simpson said. “It was clutch. We had to come out and fight in the second half.”