By Brandon Speck
BOONEVILLE – North Pontotoc pitched a second-half shutout Friday and beat Booneville 35-21. The win entrenches the Vikings atop Division 1-3A.
“This is a big ballgame for our program,” North Pontotoc coach Brian Sutton said. “We’re going to enjoy it for a little while. Come Monday, we’ve got Belmont.”
Booneville, the Journal’s No. 4-ranked team, scored the game’s first 13 points. North Pontotoc scored the final 21. It was 21-all at the half.
North Pontotoc (5-3, 2-0), up-tempo in the first half, went deliberate in the second, opening the third quarter with a 13-play drive, capped by Louisiana-Monroe commit Marcus Green’s 22-yard touchdown catch from Trey Jolly on third down. Green shifted through two tacklers and found the end zone for the second time.
“We missed too many tackles. We got whipped up front. We got whipped in the secondary. We just got beat,” Booneville coach Mike Mattox said.
Green also had a 78-yard run for a 14-13 lead. That score came after Booneville (5-2, 1-1) failed to score after a fumble at the Vikings’ 22. Jeremy Wilkes scored twice as well, the last time on a 5-yard run to open the fourth quarter.
Booneville deliberately scored the first 13 points, a 51-yard touchdown pass from Jack Simpson to Zeus Rogers, then a 14-play drive and Rogers’ 4 yard run.
As orchestrated as Booneville was, North scored two plays into its next drive on a 70-yard pass to Brooks Shannon.
Booneville went back ahead 21-14 in the second quarter on Simpson’s 26-yard pass to Hunter Henley and a 2-point pass to Daniel Calvery. North tied it just before the half on Wilkes’ second touchdown, a 14-yard pass from Jolly.
“We struggled early,” Sutton said. “I think the longer the game got and it was 21-21 and we hadn’t played that great, I think our kids realized, ‘Hey, we can play with those guys.’”