Neshoba Central's Jarquez Hunter (27) breaks thru the hole for a first down.
Neshoba Central's Jarquez Hunter (27) breaks thru the hole for a first down.
COLLINSVILLE  - Jarquez Hunter scored four touchdowns to lead the Neshoba Central Rockets past West Lauderdale 34-6 Friday in pre football action.

It was the Rockets’ first victory of the season. Neshoba Central now stands at 1-3. They will be off this week before opening up region play at Holmes Central on September 27.
“It was good to get this one,” Coach Patrict Schoolar said. “The defense played lights out. You couldn’t have asked for more. Coach Ruffin gave them a challenge and they answered the call.

“Offensively, we sputtered in the first half. Then they came together and put some points on the scoreboard.”

Hunter scored four touchdowns. One came on an interception return and he rushed for the other three. He was the leading rusher with 137 yards on 24 carries. He also had four tackles on defense.

West Lauderdale struck first. After recovering a fumble on the Rockets’ 38, the Knights came up with a big pass play that put them on the Neshoba Central four-yard line. Four plays later, senior quarterback Eli Bryan apparently pushed the ball in for a touchdown. The extra point try failed and the Knights led 6-0 with 7:10 left in the first quarter.

Jacarious Brown intercepted a pass late in the second quarter to set up the first Neshoba Central score. The Rockets took over on the West Lauderdale seven-yard line. Three plays later, Tyler Mathis scored on a short run to tie the game. Hunter Bavetta kicked the extra point and Neshoba Central led 7-6 with 5:36 left in the first half.

Right before the half, Jarquez Hunter intercepted a pass and returned it 57 yards for a touchdown. Bavetta kicked the extra point and the Rockets led 14-7 at the half.

The Rockets took the second half kickoff and drove 75 yards in five plays for another touchdown. Hunter ran up the middle from three yards out for the touchdown. The extra point try failed and the Rockets led 20-6 with 9:27 left in the third quarter.

West Lauderdale took the kickoff, ran a play, and then linebacker Jaharan Griffin intercepted a pass to give Neshoba Central the ball on the West 19-yard line. On the next play, Hunter bolted for the end zone and another touchdown. Bavetta kicked the extra point and the Rockets led 27-6 with 8:33 left in the third quarter.

The Rockets kicked off, forced the Knights to punt, and then set up for their final scoring drive of the night on their own seven-yard line. A penalty pushed Neshoba Central back to its three-yard line. Hunter would score his third rushing touchdown of the quarter on a 48-yard jaunt to the end zone. Bavette’s kick was good and the Rockets held on for the victory.

Neshoba Central had an 11-7 edge in first downs. The Rockets had 39 rushes for 228 yards and quarterback Eli Anderson completed seven-of-nine passes for 66 yards, giving them 294 total yards. Mathis finished with 61 yards on 11 carries while Austin Day had nine carries for 42 yards.

West Lauderdale finished with 190 total yards, The Knights complete three-of-16 passes for 40 yards and rushed 34 times for 150 yards.

On defense, Kelbee Holmes had 11 tackles and a sack. Day had six tackles and broke up two passes. Ray Gibson had eight tackles and a sack. Brown had three tackles and an interception while Maxton Woodard had seven tackles. Griffin had nine tackles and an interception. Nick McClendon had eight tackles and a sack. Gyd Easily had six tackles.

“We played well on special teams,” Schoolar said. “We didn’t kick great but we covered really well. We made all of our extra points but one. It was a good team win.”

Now the Rockets are looking forward to opening region play at Holmes Central.

“It’s a big game. The experts say they are supposed to win the division this year,” Schoolar said. “It will be big challenge. They have some outstanding players. They are very athletic.

“We are off this week and we may go home early a couple of days. But our practices will be status quo. We have to prepare hard for our region schedule.”