By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – Not too long ago, a child in a candy shop with a $5 bill could do a lot of damage, and be blissfully ignorant of how lucky he was.
Currently, the Byhalia Indians are that child, enjoying a sweet run through the Class 3A post-season bracket.
A school with limited football history, the Indians are through to the third round of the 3A playoffs after running past the Booneville Blue Devils 14-6 Friday.
“Our goal was to control the turnover margin, and make plays on both sides of the football,” Byhalia head coach John Danley said. “This is a great feeling, but at the same time, we’re not satisfied.”
Byhalia (9-4) certainly controlled the first half with its running game.
On the first possession of the contest, the Indians marched down the field 66 yards in 11 plays, 10 of those the running variety. Devonte Norman powered the last seven yards of the drive for the touchdown after the impressive drive.
For Booneville (9-3), its first possession was like three others – get inside the visitors’ 40-yard line, but did not come away with any points.
The Indians’ first play of the second quarter was a departure from its power running game. Quarterback Markeise Rodgers found a streaking Kenneth Wilson for a 39-yard completion and score for a 14-0 lead.
Booneville tried to respond, driving 61 yards to the Byhalia 14, only to have Cordell Anderson pick off a pass to end the threat.
The Devils certainly can be persistent about scoring in the playoffs, and their next possession proved that.
A 65-yard drive was highlighted by a fourth down run by Zeus Rogers, and Andrew Lambert latched onto a 36-yard pass from Jack Simpson to pull Booneville within 14-6 late in the half.
“Byhalia is big and physical up front, and stuck it right at us,” Booneville head coach Mike Mattox said. “We needed a couple of breaks tonight, and we just didn’t get them.”
Byhalia’s two-headed running game of Norman and Andrey Collins ate up the clock in the second half, combining for 183 yards rushing.