By Gene Phelps
OXFORD – Tupelo’s defense, the star in last season’s run to the Class 6A state championship game, came alive again in Friday night’s season opener against Lafayette.
The Golden Wave, with eight new starters on its defensive unit, pitched a 20-0 shutout against Lafayette, last season’s 4A finalist.
“That was a good win against a team the caliber of Lafayette. It was fight,” Tupelo second-year coach Trent Hammond said. “It was 7-0 for a long time. Nothing was easy.”
Tupelo’s defense held Lafayette to 87 yards in total offense, 17 in the second half. The Wave also forced three turnovers – two interceptions and a fumble.
The Wave’s Demaris Wise returned an interception 65 yards for a TD on the game’s final play.
Tupelo marched 83 yards in 13 plays on the game’s second possession to take a 7-0 lead on Alex Norwood’s 2-yard run on a speed sweep.
Deamio Garmon broke it open with his 39-yard scamper on a power play with 6 minutes, 15 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to give Tupelo a 14-0 lead.
“That touchdown was the big one,” Hammond said.
Tupelo’s defense had a big stop in the first half, holding Lafayette on a 4-and-1 at the Wave 4-yard line.
“We started reading their plays better in the second half,” Tupelo linebacker Christian Haire said. “I thought we did well, but we can do better.”
Turning Point: Garmon’s 39-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
Point Man: Garmon rushed for 84 yards on 13 carries to pace Tupelo.
Talking Point: “We executed a lot better on defense in the second half. We had the fire in us to finish the game.” – Tupelo linebacker Justin Clifton.
• Tupelo’s Daniel Bristow completed 8 of 11 passes for 120 yards and to five receivers in the first half. He finished 12 of 17 for 141.
• Demaris Wise and Justin Clifton had pass interceptions for Tupelo.
• Wave first-year kicker Zach Ellis had two kickoffs into the end zone; first-year punter Jamie Smith averaged 41 yards on three punts.
• Tupelo hosts Center Hill next Friday on its new, blue artificial turf field.