TUPELO – Regardless of the outcome, Friday night’s game between H.W. Byers and Tupelo Christian Preparatory School promised to deliver a little bit of history.
Both teams were searching for program firsts, with H.W. Byers playing in its first varsity game and TCPS still looking for its first victory as a member of the MHSAA.
As it turned out, history belonged to TCPS, thanks to a convincing 39-20 win.
“Tonight felt great,” TCPS quarterback Will Coackrell said. “We’ve been working hard and we knew we had to win a game to earn respect. Hopefully we did that tonight.”
Cockrell was a huge part of the Eagles’ win, producing 262 total yards and five touchdowns. The junior QB passed for 188 yards and three scores, ran for 74 yards and two TDs and added an interception on defense.
“He’s just steady back there for us,” TCPS head coach Aubrey Boren said of Cockrell. “Whenever we need a play, we know that (Cockrell) and Braxton Melancon can get it for us.”
Melancon recorded nine catches for 131 yards, including a 40-yard scoring strike, and rushed for 53 yards while senior Brian Yim caught two scores from Cockrell, the first being a 24-yard connection that gave TCPS a 20-14 halftime lead.
Cockrell had a pair of rushing TDs, scoring from 31 and 7 yards away in the first half. Hunter Raines was true on both PAT attempts.
H.W. Byers received scoring runs from TeLorenz Stephen and Dominic Jones to stay within six points at the half.
Eagles take control
After the break, the Eagles took complete control, peeling off 19 straight points to take a 39-14 lead before Byers scored in the game’s final minute.
Cockrell hit Yim for a 19-yard score and found Melancon for the 40-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a 33-14 lead after three quarters.
Sophomore Ron Lavigne added a 4-yard touchdown to close the Eagles’ scoring.
“Any win is a good win, but tonight is special,” Boren said of his team’s initial MHSAA victory. “We’ve got a lot of learning to do but it feels good to put this first win behind us.”
Cockrell and the rest of the Eagles hope Friday night’s win is just a start.
“We’re going to continue working hard and trying to get better,” Cockrell said, “so we can come out here and get our second win as soon as possible.”
Now 1-2 on the season, TCPS will head to Greenville O’Bannon Friday night.
Brandon Walker/NEMS Daily Journal