By Gene Phelps
TUPELO – Tupelo found its second-half grass to be … well, a lot bluer Friday night.
The Golden Wave (2-0), debuting on its new, blue artificial-turfed Renasant Field, rallied from a sluggish first half to score 41 second-half points and swat visiting Center Hill 48-7.
Jarren McKenzie, a senior defensive back, was the standout for Tupelo. He returned a first-quarter kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, blocked a punt and intercepted a pass.
Tupelo’s defense, which gave up 173 yards total offense in the first half, held the Danterius Ellington-powered Mustangs to 15 yards total offense in the second half. Center Hill’s quarterback completed three passes in the second half after going 12 of 15 for 129 yards in the first half.
“We had a chance to put it all together in the second half,” Tupelo head coach Trent Hammond said. “Our offense didn’t panic. Our defense got them the ball. Hats off to our special teams.”
Center Hill scored on its opening drive, but Tupelo tied the score at 7-7 on McKenzie’s kickoff return.
It was all Wave in the second half as Tavonta Hadley, Jarvis Wilson, Deamio Garmon, David Birks and Jaden Smith scored on rushing plays. Garmon had a 57-yard score while Smith had an 81-yard TD scamper.
Garmon rushed for 137 yards and Hadley added 98 for Tupelo.
Tupelo quarterback Daniel Bristow fired a 7-yard TD strike to Alex Norwood to give the Wave a 21-7 lead.
Turning Point: Golden Wave defense stopped Center Hill QB Danterius Ellington in the second half.
Point Man: Jarren McKenzie, who fumbled away a punt, also had the kickoff return, blocked punt and interception for Tupelo.
Talking Point: “Our offensive line blocked really well. They dominated the line of scrimmage.” – Tupelo co-offensive coordinator Allen Glenn
• Jarvis Smithey made his first start for the Wave at right guard.
• The Golden Wave faked a punt – a snap to Justin Clifton that resulted in a 7-yard gain – on its lone offensive possession of the first half.
• Tupelo returns home next week, hosting Shannon at Renasant Field.