By SCOTTY NICHOLS
For Corinth Today
FULTON – It started out relatively easy, then it took a gut-check for the Itawamba AHS Indians to pull out a 24-14 win over a scrappy Corinth Warrior squad in a huge division matchup.
The Indians weren’t exactly clicking on all cylinders but managed to get the job done in the first half.
“We kind of sputtered a little bit on offense tonight but the guys managed to make the plays down the stretch to get the win,” said IAHS head coach Clint Hoots. “Give Corinth credit. They had a good gameplan and mixed up their blitzes on defense. It gave us some problems but we’re proud to get the win.”
The Indians struck first when Austin King hit Caleb Whittle for a 21-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter, then again on the first play of the second half when junior tailback Chris Chandler broke loose up the middle for a 33-yard touchdown run.
Skylar Grissom banged home a 28-yard field goal to put IAHS up 17-0 at the half.
Things began to get testy for the Indians in the second half, however, as King hit a bump in the road after starting the contest 7-of-8 passing.
The Corinth defense didn’t sack King, but did a great job rushing throws to force King to complete just two of his final 15 attempts.
King finished just 9-of-23 passing for 132 yards and a touchdown but did plenty of damage with his legs, running for 116 yards on 13 carries.
Following a failed IAHS fake punt, Corinth’s Jon D. Warren connected with Jawon Shields for a 35-yard touchdown on the Warriors’ second completed pass of the game, with 5:36 left in the third quarter.
On their next possession, Warren plunged in for a one-yard score to pull them within 17-14 with nine minutes still left on the clock.
King and sophomore tailback Lamarcus Rhodes put the offense on their backs with some hard running in the fourth quarter, and Rhodes provided the insurance score with a one-yard touchdown dive with just under four minutes to play.
Point Man: With the passing game struggling, Austin King and Lamarcus Rhodes got it done on the ground when it counted and rushed for nearly 200 yards combined.
Turning Point: Leading just 17-14 with less than five minutes to go, a neutral zone infraction by Corinth sustained an IAHS drive and led to Rhodes’ game-clinching touchdown run.
Talking Point: “When they cut it to 17-14, we just didn’t look at the scoreboard. In our heads, it was still 0-0.” – IAHS senior QB Austin King.
• The win pushes IAHS to 2-1 in division with a matchup at Pontotoc next week, possibly deciding a home playoff berth for the winner.
• Jon D. Warren didn’t complete a pass in the first half (0-7) but completed three of his four attempts in the second half for 71 yards and a score.
• IAHS lost senior RB/DB David Lacy to a shoulder injury and junior WR/DB Lane Domino to a head injury during the game.