MADISON — As the clock ticked down on a monumental upset of a win for his Jaguars, even notoriously stoic Madison Central coach Anthony Hart had to crack a smile.
And why not, it’s not every day you knock off No. 1.
Behind the combination of a stout defense and a strong rushing attack, Madison Central stunned top-ranked Starkville 15-9 in The Jungle Friday night in a crucial Region 2-6A matchup.
“We are built around playing good defense, and when you do that you always have a chance,” Hart said. “We thought we knew the run game was going to be tough early and then we threw Vic in the fire and did really good.”
The Madison Central defense held Starkville to just 25 yards rushing.
“We had to just keep staying in the game and the way the defense was playing we knew we had a chance,” Hart said. “Tonight we made plays when we had to make them.”
The first score of the game didn’t come until 9:47 left in the second quarter when Madison Central quarterback Vic Sutton hit Creek Robertson on a 25-yard touchdown pass to give the Jaguars a 7-0 lead.
Starkville answered right back with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Luke Altmyer to Sam Hunt, but the extra point missed. Madison Central had a 7-6 lead with 2:38 left in the first half.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Yellowjackets got a huge turnover to start the fourth when Ahmir Taylor recovered a fumble off a bad snap at the Madison Central 3-yard line. But a false start, a sack and an incomplete pass later, Starkville settled for a Josh Eaves 26-yard field goal to take a 9-7 lead with 7:26 left in the game
Their lead was short-lived.
Madison Central (6-2) returned the ensuing kickoff to the Starkville 44-yard line, and scored seven plays later when Sutton scrambled to the edge and ran 10 yards to the pylon to put the Jaguars up 15-9 with 4:45 left in the game.
“It was a crazy game and we were playing with a chip on our shoulder,” Sutton said. “I bounced outside and ran straight for the corner of the end zone and made it. Our offensive line did a really good job blocking and running backs found the holes.”
The Jackets drove to the Madison 34-yard line on their final possession, but turned the ball over on downs when receiver Kobe Larkin was pushed out of bounds a yard short of the line to gain. That sealed the win for the Jaguars.
Madison Central running back Jackson Mize had 103 yards rushing to lead the rushing attack.
Starkville’s first loss sets up a three-way tie for second place with Starkville, Clinton and Madison Central now 4-1 in Region 2-6A with three games left. Warren Central, who had a bye this week, is now in sole possession of first place.
Florida State commit Altmyer had 227 yards passing with a touchdown to lead the Jackets.
“I didn’t do a good enough job preparing our guys and we didn’t execute,” said Starkville coach Chris Jones. “We got to get better and we have to play better than we did tonight and I take the blame.”
— Brandon Shields
(Feature photo by Keith Warren)