MANTACHIE – Andrew Aldridge’s first game as Mantachie’s coach was one to remember.
On the same field, Tupelo Christian Prep’s debut as a Class 1A independent member of the Mississippi High School Activities Association didn’t evoke the same feelings for Eagles coach Aubrey Boren.
His team lost, 34-14, to Aldridge’s Mustangs,
Boren missed the game with the flu-like symptoms.
“I’m proud of all of their hard work and I’m glad to see it pay off,” Aldridge said of his squad. “TCPS has a great bunch.”
Assistant coach Grant Smallwood, who filled in for Boren on the sidelines, hated to see his team’s leader miss the game.
“I know (Boren) hated to miss it,” Smallwood said. “He wanted to be here.”
The Mustangs scored two first-quarter touchdowns in the final 1:38 to take a 12-0 lead.
Running back Tyler Snead, who rushed for 180 yards, scored first on an 8-yard run to cap a 68-yard drive. He needed just one carry, a 62-yard shot off right tackle, on the next possession to give the home team its two-TD lead.
TCPS answered early in the second quarter to tally on Braxton Meloncon’s 9-yard run to cap a 78-yard, seven-play march. Hunter Raines’ kick cut Mantachie’s lead to 12-7.
Mantachie chewed up the clock and the yards to take a 20-7 halftime lead.
Quarterback Dalton McMillen’s 2-yard run on an option keeper ended a 70-yard, 14-play drive for the Mustangs. A 21-yard run on a third-and-12 by Jordan Dickinson was a crucial gain of the possession.
In the second half, McMillen fired a 40-yard TD pass to Matthew Driskell and Dickinson added a 1-yard scoring run for the Mustangs.
TCPS scored late in the fourth quarter on an 18-yard pass from Will Cockrell to Zach Tucker. Cockrell completed 22 of 40 passes for 251 yards and suffered two interceptions in his first varsity start under center.
“I thought we executed our offense well,” he said. “We just needed to complete a few more passes.”
Smallwood saw some things that pleased him offensively and defensively. The Eagles stopped the Mustangs on downs twice inside the red zone.
“It’s early, it’s week one,” he said. “There’s a lot of football left to play.”
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal