• John Macon Gillespie

Coverage Recap: Starkville 38 | Northwest Rankin 14

Starkville(6-1, 2-0) used 38 unanswered points to grab their second division win of the season last night. It was impressive recovery, considering their slow start.

The first quarter belonged to visitors. Northwest Rankin(4-2, 1-1) jumped out to a 14-zip lead, on a 42-yard scoring run from Dee Baker and a one-handed touchdown grab by Jarrian Jones.

The crowd was quiet, and Starkville was having trouble establishing their running game. Meanwhile, the Cougars looked like a well-oiled machine on offense and their defensive line was stepping up big time.

Heck, I was ready to tell you guys about how junior quarterback Jamari Jones had taken this NWR team from good to great.

Then the Yellowjackets showed up late to their own party, and Malik Brown was the driver. The junior quarterback would find Cameron Gardner on scoring tosses of 20 and 36 yards. The first touchdown came when Brown was able to buy time on 4th down.

In the second half Brown would launch another scoring toss on a 3rd and 12, this one to Cameron Hines. For good measure, Brown would also rush for a score in the third quarter. Needless to say, he took home SES Player of the Game honors.

Sure, on one hand it was concerning to see the Jacket rushing attack be slowed down, but that’s easy to put to the side when you consider the success of the passing game. Brown was able to find receivers downfield all night, sometimes dropping dimes into their hands and sometimes giving them a chance to make plays on the ball.

Two weeks ago, following a big win over Meridian, I told you guys Starkville was a bonafide contender in 6A North. This morning I come to you even more sure that this team can make a run to the state title game. I’m not saying they will, just that they’re the most equipped team in the North - outside of Tupelo - to be able to do so.

All season long the Jacket defense has been dominant. In fact, NWR is just the third team this season to break into double-digits in scoring. Now we also know that this Starkville team can beat good teams on the ground, as well as through the air. That’s a scary thought, as Chris Jones’s bunch just continues to add confidence and momentum.

On the other side, Northwest Rankin is a team to keep in mind. They entered this contest ranked as the #7 team in the SES Top 10, and I still find them deserving of a spot in that group.

The Cougars have plenty of bright spots, including two-way star junior Jarrian Jones. Jamari Jones threw four TDs last week in a win over Warren Central, and was also impressive early on against Starkville. Those two guys give the Cougars something through the air. Meanwhile, Cam Carroll and Dee Bakers are a strong combination on the ground.

Defensively, the Cougars surprised me with their play up front, but the secondary faced a strong challenge last night and will have to bounce back.

#Starkville #NorthwestRankin #JohnLukeMcCord

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