By Zach Adams/The Itawamba County Times
OLIVE BRANCH – With a possible matchup with fellow unbeaten Noxubee County looming on the horizon, the Itawamba AHS Indians had to focus on the task at hand Friday when they traveled to Lewisburg for the second round of the 4A playoffs.
The Patriots refused to be overlooked early as they stuffed the powerful rushing combo of Ashton Shumpert and Charles Moore to force a 3-3 stalemate at the half.
A timely fumble recovery by Indian linebacker Reggie White early in the third, however, swung the momentum and led to 27 unanswered points as Itawamba AHS (12-0) marched to a 30-3 victory.
“They came out and hit us in the mouth early,” IAHS coach Toby Collums said. The turnover“was huge. I think it swung momentum a little bit because our kids kind of had a deer in the headlights look going in at the half.”
A pair of field goals, a 33 yarder from IAHS’ Tyler Dosset late in the first, followed by a 38 yarder from Lewisburg’s Matt Bratton was all of the scoring the two teams could manage in the first two quarters of play.
The turning point came on the opening drive of the third quarter when Austin Cauthern forced a fumble that was recovered by White on the Lewisburg 18.
A Dossett quarterback keeper to the 1 set up a Moore TD that signaled the beginning of the end for the Patriots’ upsets hopes.
A quick three-and-out by Lewisburg led to an electrifying Shumpert 86-yard scamper as the senior burst up the middle and out-ran the defense to the end zone.
The Indians added TD runs of 35 and 27 yards by Moore and Shumpert in the fourth quarter to cap all scoring.
Shumpert ended the game with 228 yards and two TDs, while Moore added 63 yards and two scores.
Clash of unbeatens
With Lewisburg behind them, the Indians have to quickly turn their attention to what should be their biggest test of the season, No.1 ranked Noxubee County.
“They are considered the best team in the state of Mississippi,” Collums said. “They are a talented football team at every position. We don’t have to be more talented than them, we just have to be better than them for 48 minutes.”