‘Great defense’ boosts Indians in 1-4A opener

Football stockBy Melissa Meador

Monroe Journal

AMORY – Itawamba AHS got a three-touchdown night from sophomore running back Hunter White and saw its defense pick off Amory three times to open up Division 1-4A play with a 35-13 victory.

“We played great defense tonight. Having a week off last week, I think our offense had trouble finding a rhythm at times,” Itawamba coach Toby Collums said. “Anytime you can come get a win at Amory, that’s big, and the fact that it’s the first division game makes it even more important.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Amory linebacker Fred Garth picked up a Vijay Miller fumble to close the period and returned it 65 yards to the Indians’ 8.

A pair of penalties kept the Panthers out of the end zone, but Caleb Shelly nailed a 28-yard field goal to give them a 3-0 lead at the beginning of the second.

Miller’s second fumble gave Amory (2-5, 0-1) the ball back at the Itawamba 28 several minutes later, but the Indians’ defense held the Panthers to a three and out. White opened the next possession with a 72-yard run, then punched it in from 5 yards out for a 7-3 lead.

Turnovers turn tide

Itawamba (4-2, 1-0) capitalized on Amory’s first turnover with Deontae Lee picking off freshman QB Gunnar Hall at the Panthers’ 15. White’s 10-yard scoring run two plays later helped the Indians take a 14-3 lead to the half.

Hall opened up the third quarter with back-to-back first down throws, including a 22-yarder to Drake Wallace, but Hunter Sheffield picked him off for a 60-yard interception return.

The Panthers countered with a 69-yard scoring run from T.J. Fields on the first play of the ensuing drive and a two-point conversion run from Isaiah Carter. The momentum was short-lived, however, as White found the end zone for the third time just a minute later.

Mike King added a 21-yard TD run near the end of the third, and Amory’s defense picked up a safety in the fourth quarter.

“We played pretty good defense early. We’re getting better every week,” Amory coach Ben Ashley said. “That’s all we can do. We’re young, that’s a fact, and there’s nothing like experience. These kids are getting it on the run.”

melissa.meador@journalinc.com