By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
TUPELO – The Tupelo Golden Wave showing off a stylish passing game? Did not materialize.
D. K. Buford of the Lafayette Commodores sprinting through the Tupelo defense? He was shut down.
What did happen was the Golden Wave used some old-fashioned muscle and heart to top the Commodores 36-21 in the 2013 season opener for both clubs.
“I’m happy to be 1-0,” said first-year Tupelo head coach Trent Hammond. “We have a lot of things to improve on, but what I’m happy about is the way we fought and came through.”
One of the important and perhaps surprising key statistics was the Tupelo rushing game, which totaled a hard-earned 291 unofficial yards.
On the flip side, the speedy Buford only managed 49 yards, all on the ground.
“I think the kids played hard, with a lot of effort,” Tupelo defensive coordinator Lamar Aldridge said. “We played a lot of guys, and I think that made a difference for us.
“When adversity happened, we handled it well.”
Lafayette had its share of fortuitous bounces this contest. That began with a pass completion and fumble that was picked up by Dillon Helm as part of a 67-yard touchdown that gave the visitors a 7-0 lead, the only scoring of the first quarter.
Tupelo got on the board early in the second period on a bad snap by Lafayette, resulting in a safety, and a 3-yard run by Jarvis Wilson for a 10-7 lead.
The Commodores countered with an 87-yard kickoff return, setting up a Buford 8-yard TD run.
But Tupelo sandwiched that with a 25-yard fumble return on a punt by States Norman and a period ending 39-yard field goal by Reed Bigham for a 20-14 lead.
Tupelo added a third-quarter 6-yard run by Wilson, and a fourth-quarter 36-yard dash by Reed Taylor and a 49-yard field goal by Bigham. Lafayette had a 2-yard run by Buford in the fourth period.
“We had a lot of typical first-game mistakes,” Lafayette head coach Eric Roberston. “We jumped out early and Tupelo battled back.”
Next week, the Wave is at Center Hill while Lafayette is at Corinth.