By Zach Adams/The Itawamba County Times
AMORY – Something had to give on Friday night when the high-octane passing attack of the Amory Panthers met the seemingly unstoppable run game of the undefeated Itawamba AHS Indians.
The contrast in offensive styles resulted in fireworks, but with the fate of Division 1-4A on the line, it was the efforts of Ashton Shumpert and a hard-hitting defense that ultimately tipped the balance in favor of the Indians.
Shumpert rushed for 301 yards and five TDs, including two long scores in the final four minutes, that secured a 35-13 victory to keep the Indians’ record perfect and give them their first division title since 2009.
“We have been hearing all week how they were going to try to beat us, so we came out with great intensity,” Shumpert said.
IAHS (9-0, 4-0 Division 1-4A) jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first half behind Shumpert runs of 1, 6 and 5 yards. The Panthers (8-2, 3-1) were stonewalled for the majority of the first two quarters.
Amory’s offense finally hit on a big play when, with just 16 seconds until halftime, Devin McIntosh hooked up with Tanner Poole on a 46-yard halfback pass.
Both defenses held for the majority of the third quarter until Poole again hauled in a big catch, this time a 70-yard strike from quarterback Jon Davis Poss, that cut the lead to 21-13.
A Dee Evans recovery of a Charles Moore fumble early in the fourth gave the Panthers a chance to tie it, but a Dario Robinson drop in the end zone forced a missed field goal.
IAHS chewed clock until Shumpert broke loose for a 41-yard scamper with 3:13 remaining that sealed it for the Indians. He later capped all scoring with his fifth TD on 54-yard run with less than two minutes remaining.
“That kind of speaks for itself,” Itawamba coach Toby Collums said, referring to Shumpert’s performance. “He is a coach on the field, a two-way player and any time he has the ball in his hands, he has got a chance to go to the house.”