Neshoba Central running back Tyler Mathis runs between the blocks of teammates Cadarrius Roberts and Eli Moran.
Neshoba Central running back Tyler Mathis runs between the blocks of teammates Cadarrius Roberts and Eli Moran.

The Neshoba Central Rockets picked up 422 yards in total offense Friday night as they rolled over Kosciusko 28-12 in the prep football season opener for both teams.

A trio of Rockets accounted for most of those yards. Running backs Jarquez Hunter rushed 20 times for 180 yards and Tyler Mathis picked up 157 yards on 17 carries. Also, junior quarterback Austin Day rushed eight times for 69 yards.

Coach Patrick Schoolar was proud of those numbers and praised his offensive line for clearing the way.

“Anytime you rush for 422 yards, you are moving some people around,” Schoolar said. “We are happy with the win, but we had some first game mistakes and we will go back and work on those things in practice this week.

The Rockets’ offensive line is made up of Tyler Files at center; guards Sam Farmer and Eli Moran; and, tackles Tyler Holland and Bryce Parkerson. Bryce Thomas and Jared Jim also see playing time on the offensive line.

The Rockets will be looking for their second win of the young season Friday night when they host the Newton County Cougars. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.  Newton County took a 21-13 win over Leake Central in their season opener.

“They have a new coach and we expect them to be improved over last year,” Schoolar said.

Against Kosciusko, neither team scored in the first quarter. Midway through the second quarter, the Rockets drove down to the Kosciusko 8-yard line before running out of downs.

The Rockets defense held and forced the Whippets to punt. Neshoba Central took over on the Kosciusko 49-yard line. Hunter broke loose for a 23-yard gain on second down that moved the ball down to the Whippets’ 26-yard line. Mathis picked up three yards. Then Hunter bolted up the middle for a 23-yard gain that resulted in the first touchdown of the season. Caleb Bradley kicked the extra point and the Rockets led 7-0 with 5:47 remaining in the first half.

The Rockets took the second half kickoff. On first down, Mathis broke for a 61-yard touchdown run. Ja’vien Gill caught a pass from A.J. Watkins for the two point conversion and Neshoba Central led 15-0.

Neshoba Central’s next possession started on the Rockets’ 46-yard line. Later, Day kept the ball and ran 46 yards for a touchdown. Bradley kicked the extra point and Neshoba Central led 22-0 with 4:52 left in the third quarter.

The Whippets defense turned a big play into a touchdown as they picked up a fumble and ran it in for six points. The kick was good and Neshoba Central led 22-6 with 3:19 left in the third quarter.

Late in the third quarter, the Kosciusko offense started a drive that resulted in a touchdown when Marlon Dotson caught a 15-yard TD pass from Azikwe Miller. The extra point was no good and the Rockets led 22-12 with 10:51 left in the fourth quarter,

Kosciusko put together a 12-play drive that took a lot of time off the clock. The Whippets picked up some yardage but did not score.

The Rockets took over and drove down to the Kosciusko 15-yard line where Mathis carried it in for a touchdown. The extra point try was no good and the Rockets held on to take a 28-12 win.

The Neshoba Central defense held the Whippets to 110 yards in total offense. There were several outstanding performances. Linebacker Christian Spears had 13 tackles while Colin Hunt had 10 tackles and three sacks. Hunter had seven tackles while Jeremiah Hawthorn had five tackles and an interception.