By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
SOUTHAVEN – With five minutes to play in the second quarter, the strategy for both Tupelo and Southaven was forced to change by Mother Nature.
Friday night’s contest started with mild temperatures and no wind, but about thirty minutes after kickoff a stiff northern breeze began to blow and soon after a consistent, and at times hard, rain.
Though the weather flip-flop favored Tupelo, the Chargers were able to hold on and defeat the Golden Wave 14-10 in a pivotal Division 1-6A matchup.
“I have never seen a wind like that in the third quarter,” Tupelo coach David Bradberry said. “When that rain and wind comes, you’ve got to deal with it.”
The Wave dealt better with the conditions than their opponent, who scored both their touchdowns in the opening half.
Shea Chism found Terence Davis for a 16-yard touchdown on Southaven’s first possession and, as the rain began, Jacquez McMillian caught an 18-yard scoring pass that gave the Chargers (5-2, 2-1) a 14-0 lead.
From that point, a wet ball all but made the passing game ineffective. Chism threw for 146 yards in the first half, but did not have a completion after the break.
“We knew we could throw it on them, and then the wind switched and the rain started and it just took us out of what we were doing,” said Southaven coach Ed Rich. “We just didn’t handle the elements real good.”
The momentum swayed a bit on the last timed play before halftime. Antonio Clifton intercepted Chism’s Hail Mary attempt and returned it 58 yards.
A facemask penalty on Southaven moved the ball up 15 more yards and gave Tupelo one untimed play. Drew White was successful on a 32-yard field goal try into the wind to put the Wave on the scoreboard.
Quinn Tiggs made it a one-possession game with his third pick-six in two weeks, a 15-yarder, in the third quarter.
Tupelo (3-4, 1-2) had two chances to score in the fourth, the last with under a minute left. James Gilleylen blocked Hunter Bull’s punt to give the Wave the ball on Southaven’s 16-yard line.
Three straight incompletions and a sack after the block forced Tupelo to turn the ball over on downs and sealed the victory for the Chargers.
“We couldn’t run the ball because we didn’t have any timeouts so we had to throw it four times in a row,” Bradberry said.