Nettleton forces seven Mooreville turnovers, keep Division 2-3A title in sights

MOOREVILLE – Nettleton did what it had to do Friday night to gain a shot at a Division 2-3A title.
A 27-0 victory against Mooreville set up a showdown at Aberdeen next week for the regular season crown.
Aberdeen can win the division outright with a win. With Water Valley’ 26-20 win at Winona Friday, a Nettleton win and Water Valley win against Mooreville would bring tie-breakers into the mix.
Combined with Winona’s loss, Mooreville is eliminated from the postseason.
“This sort of got us ready for the game next week,” Nettleton coach Jack Clark said. “I don’t know if they have as many athletes, but I guarantee you they bring as much pressure as Aberdeen’s going to bring. I’m going to say it will be a good football game.”
Trailing 13-0, Mooreville (6-4, 1-3) recovered the second half kickoff after Nettleton watched it go dead at its 25 yard line. On the ensuing play though, Wesley Lee recovered a fumbled handoff. Nettleton didn’t score, but it was the third of seven turnovers for Mooreville.
Nettleton (8-2, 3-1) did capitalize on Mooreville’s fifth fumble, its third straight on an opening play of a second-half drive. The Tigers, ranked No. 4 in the Daily Journal’s Class 3A poll, capitalized with Corbin White’s 4 yard run. Anthony Franklin hit Elmonte McClendon for the two-point conversion and the Tigers took a 21-0 lead.
White had 116 yards on 14 carries.
“We knew how much pressure they were going to bring. I think we lost our composure at times,” Clark said, “didn’t execute very well, but it’s a win.”
Nettleton scored its final touchdown in the fourth quarter when Franklin found Odarius Lowe for a 3-yard touchdown pass, the senior’s second of the night to the sophomore.
Mooreville coach Kevin Austin watched his defense shine and offense struggle for the second straight week.
“We didn’t pick a very good week to play our worst game,” Austin said. “We knew we’d have to play extremely well to win tonight, and we sure didn’t do it. That may have been our worst effort on offense.”
Nettleton saw its own drive stall on the Mooreville 9-yard line late in the first quarter. A drive later, the Tigers were forced to punt. On the punt though, returner Gary Johnson touched the kicked ball and Nettleton recovered at the Trooper 5. On third down, Franklin found a wide open Lowe for a 3-yard score. Joe Sullivan’s kick made it 13-0 at the half.

Happy birthday
Franklin, who turns 18 today, put Nettleton ahead early after Mooreville’s first turnover. Lee Tharp had picked off Franklin only to have McClendon return the favor to Mooreville quarterback Griff Loftis. On the drive, Franklin broke free through Mooreville’s defense for a 52 yard score.
Franklin rushed for 102 yards on 14 carries.
Mooreville blew two second quarter scoring chances, with a blocked field goal and a Johnson fumble inside the 5 that Dalton Sullivan picked up to end the half.
“The defense played extremely well. They caused turnovers all night long,” Clark said, “set us up in some good positions we couldn’t capitalize on, but we knew they were going to bring so much pressure.”
Mooreville, losers of three straight, travels to Water Valley to close the season.
“That’s a good team,” Austin said of Nettleton. “They’re well-coached, got some good players”

Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal