FULTON – It was home cooking for the Itawamba AHS Indians on Friday night.
First, the Fulton-based school opened up its beautiful new $1.7 million stadium, and second, the Indians fans were treated to a 49-7 season-opening victory over area rival Amory High.
“Just a special night for our town and our school,” said Itawamba AHS head coach Jamie Mitchell.
After Amory fumbled the opening kickoff, the Daily Journal’s fourth-ranked Indians would score on every possession in the first half, and Asian Ruff closed out the half with a 37-yard interception return to make it 49-0 Indians.
“I thought the opening kickoff set the stage,” Mitchell said.
That halftime score must have been fitting for the IAHS marching band to play the Godfather theme song during intermission. Nonetheless, the Indians provided a rude welcoming to its new fellow member of Class 4A; the Panthers rejoined Class 4A this season after playing previously in 3A.
“It was like a snowball rolling down hill,” said Amory head coach Pat Byrd, who graduated from IAHS in 1984. “Everything happened right for them from the opening kickoff.
“We’re not the football team that we showed tonight.”
Five players scored touchdowns for the Indians in the first half, including two apiece by running back Deshawn McGaughy and tight end Dillon Mitchell.
McGaughy rushed for 105 yards on six carries, including a 75-yard-run, and scored two TDs just in the first quarter alone.
Mitchell got into the scoring act with a 46-yard reception on the first play of the second quarter. He would score again on the Indians’ next possession – a 17-yard pass and catch from quarterback Maikhail Miller, who had a 1-yard touchdown run to start the scoring for Itawamba in the first period.
Ashton Shumpert also had a rushing touchdown, a 15-yarder with 2:38 remaining in the second quarter.
Kicker Glynn Brown was a perfect 7-for-7 on extra-point attempts.
With their reserves in, the Indians finally punted for the first time when they went three-and-out on the first possession of the second half.
The two teams played to a scoreless third quarter, and Amory finally got in the board on a 1-yard run by Devin McIntosh with 3:32 to go in the game.
The IAHS starters will be well-rested when they take on Tupelo High in Tupelo next Friday.
“I don’t know if that’s a good thing,” Mitchell said. “I wish our guys got a little bit used to playing for 48 minutes.
“But our younger guys got a chance to play, and that’s good experience for them.”
For Amory, it was the second straight loss to an area opponent. The Panthers are now 0-2 on the year after losing to Nettleton a week ago and IAHS on Friday night.
The Panthers look to get in the win column next week when they travel to take on New Hope.
“We’re going to comeback and regroup and get ready for New Hope,” said Byrd, who had everyone healthy for Friday’s game against Itawamba.
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal