MADISON — It was billed as a matchup between two of the top five teams in the state, but it turned into a coming out party for the defending state champs.
Fourth-ranked Madison Central raced ahead to a 14-0 lead and never looked back in a 41-21 win over No. 2 Starkville to move to 1-0 in Region 3 Friday night at Jaguar Stadium.
“Yeah, we saw this coming,” Madison Central quarterback Vic Sutton said. “Everyone was calling us underdogs for some reason, like we didn’t just go win the state championship. We just came out here tonight and showed everyone we’re still top dogs around here, just handled our business and executed well.”
He can say that again — the Jaguars built a 24-7 lead in the first half and led it 41-7 at one point in the fourth quarter.
Unlike last year’s 6A North State finale, the Yellowjackets (4-1) did a good job of slowing down the Madison Central running game Friday night. The Jags averaged just 3.6 yards on 44 carries.
But this year, Madison Central (3-1) had Sutton. The big Louisiana Tech commit completed 10 of his 17 passes for 232 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown pass to Southern Miss commit Isaiah Spencer. Spencer finished with seven catches for 174 yards.
“We just had to see what the defense was giving us,” Sutton said. “If the run game doesn’t get going, we can beat ‘em through the air. We just tried to mix it up.”
The Madison Central defense was equally impressive. The Jaguars closed the running lanes, made Starkville nearly one-dimensional and harassed Starkville quarterback Trey Petty, who came into Friday’s game banged up and limping after the Yellowjackets’ 21-20 win over Louisville last weekend.
Petty’s first interception came on Starkville’s opening possession, when Madison Central sophomore Jaiden Johnson stepped in front of a pass and raced 60 yards the other way to give the Jaguars the early 14-0 advantage.
Junior Denym Mitchell came up with the second one on Starkville’s opening possession of the second half. Thirteen plays later, Madison Central tight end Jake Norris punched it in from two yards out to give the Jaguars a commanding 31-7 lead.
Petty, surely one of the best quarterbacks in the state, came up limping after a sack just one minute into the fourth quarter and did not return. Backup Jaylon Ruffin came in and led back-to-back touchdown drives, but it was too little, too late for Starkville.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Yellowjackets coach Chris Jones said. “We don’t look like a very good team right now. This was a total team loss.”
Starkville will travel to Clinton next week.
The Jaguars will travel to Grenada.
(Photos by Austin Freyser)