By Gene Phelps
OXFORD – Pat Byrd needed to give his offense a wake-up call Saturday, so he reached for his alarm clock – Diamante Pounds.
Saltillo’s senior running back, who was held to minus-4 yards on the Tigers’ first two series in their two-quarter scrimmage against North Pontotoc, responded loud and clear.
Pounds rushed for 49 yards on 15 carries and scored on a 2-yard run to lead Saltillo to a 14-7 comeback win against the Vikings in the Oxford Jamboree at Ole Miss’ Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
“Coach (Byrd) told me I needed to pick my team up,” Pounds said. “I ran harder knowing we were down (7-0) in the game.”
One of two quarterbacks competing for the Tigers’ starting job, Tristen Daniel, connected with Chase Traylor for a 25-yard touchdown to give Saltillo a 7-7 tie in the second quarter.
Clayton Knight, a transfer from Tupelo Christian, started under center. However, Byrd says the QB race remains up for grabs.
“They each have their strengths,” Byrd said. “It’s going to boil down to who makes the best decisions.”
North Pontotoc turned to a nose guard to find a new quarterback. Caleb Nelson, who started on the defensive front last season, has taken over at QB for the departed Trey Jolly.
Nelson completed 12 of 20 passes for 176 yards, one TD and two interceptions against Saltillo. His scoring strike was a 14-harder to Zay Cullens.
“I was a little nervous early,” Nelson said. “I was pleased with a lot of my throws, except for the two (interceptions).”
Baldwyn 27, Senatobia 21
Baldwyn quarterback Duke Upshaw accounted for three touchdowns to lead his team.
Upshaw, who rushed for 112 yards and passed for 80, scored on runs of 15 and 56 yards. He passed 28 yards for a TD to Matthew Gates.
“He’s sneaky throwing the football,” Baldwyn coach Michael Gray said. “He’s more valuable with his legs, but if you start trying to defend that, he’ll be able to hurt you over the top.”
Also for the Bearcats, Jordan McGaughy returned an interception 12 yards for a score.