Hunter paces Neshoba Central past Tupelo

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Senior running back Jarquez Hunter rushed for 179 yards on 32 carries and scored two touchdowns to lead the Neshoba Central Rockets to a 25-17 win over Tupelo in prep football action.

Hunter had two catches for 26 yards, giving him 205 total offensive yards. Hunter also starts at linebacker and rarely leaves the field. He had four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

The Rockets improved to 1-0 on the season while Tupelo dropped to 0-1. The Rockets are ranked No. 7 in the state by the Mississippi Gridiron Overall Top 10 poll.

The Rockets will be back in action Friday night when they host West Lauderdale. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

“It was a great win against a quality opponent,” said Rockets Coach Patrick Schoolar. “It is one of the biggest wins for our program in the last four or five years. The defense played extremely well tonight. We gave up one long pass and a tipped pass, Without that, they wouldn’t have had 100 yards of offense.”

The Rockets struck first with a 28-yard field goal in the first quarter by Hunter Bavetta. That gave Neshoba Central a 3-0 lead with 1:01 left in quarter.

Neshoba Central linebacker Jaharon Griffin caught a Tupelo ball carrier in the end zone for a safety to extend the Rockets’ lead to 5-0.

Then the Rockets offense scored when Hunter hit pay dirt on a 35-yard run. Bavetta’s kick was good and the Rockets went up 12-0 with 9:08 left in the first half.

Tupelo got on the scoreboard when Tanner Goggins kicked a field goal, making the score 12-3.

The Rockets put two more touchdowns on the scoreboard before the half.

First, junior quarterback Eli Anderson ran 40 yards for a touchdown. Anderson finished the night with 154 total yards. He completed 8-of-20 passes for 83 yards, and rushed eight times for 71 yards. The kick was no good and the Rockets led 18-3.

Hunter scored his second touchdown of the night on a 34-yard rush. The kick was good and the Rockets led 25-3 at the half.

Tupelo scored on the first play of the second half when Corbin Huggins caught a 65-yard TD play from senior quarterback Jake Ware. Goggins’ kick was good and Tupelo trailed 25-10.

Tupelo scored again in the closing seconds of the third quarter when K.D Gibson pulled in a deflected pass for a 17-yard TD pass play from Ware. Goggins’ kick was good and the score stood at 25-17.

In the final minutes, Neshoba Central drove down to the Gold Wave 25. Tupelo took over and moved the ball to the Rocket 36. Then Brayden Reynolds intercepted a pass for the Rockets.

The Rockets kept the ball on the ground and Tupelo was forced to use its final time out with 1:55 left in the game. The Rockets punted, putting the Golden Wave on their own 14. Tupelo went to the air four times with all passes falling incomplete. Neshoba Central closed out the game in the victory formation.

Neshoba Central finished 347 total yards and 12 first downs. The Rockets rushed 44 times for 264 yards and completed 8-of-220 passes for 83 yards. Tupelo had 209 total yards and six first downs. The Gold Wave rushed 19 times for 49 yards and completed 11-of-30 passes for 160 yards.

Ty Matthews led the team in tackles with eight. Elijah Ruffin and Jaharon Griffin both had seven tackles while Maxton Woodward and Kelbee Holmes had six tackles each.


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