By Robert Wilson
Madison Central is going to the MHSAA Class 6A state championship for the first time since 1999. And the Jaguars pulled off the remarkable win without their starting quarterback Vic Sutton and starting running back Robert Dumas.
Junior DeAndre Pullen replaced Dumas and ran for 187 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, had a 45-yard kickoff return and played linebacker to lead Madison Central to a 34-13 victory Friday night at Starkville, avenging its only loss of the season.
Madison Central, 12-1, meets Brandon, 11-2 and winners of 11 straight games since a 42-19 loss to Madison Central, for the 6A state title Friday at 7 p.m. at Southern Miss in Hattiesburg. Madison Central had lost nine consecutive times in the semifinals since winning the title in 1999. Starkville finished 12-2.
Starkville, behind super sophomore quarterback Trey Petty, scored 28 points in the second half for a come-from-behind, 35-28 victory over Madison Central Sept. 24 in Starkville.
There was no comeback this time.
Madison Central led 16-7 at halftime, then Pullen ran for TDs of 6 and 69 yards to push the lead to 31-7 with 2 minutes, 25 seconds to play in the third quarter.
Sophomore Max Zuluaga kicked two field goals, junior Jake Norris – a tight end who was Sutton’s backup and played quarterback when he went down with an injury last week – completed a TD pass to junior wide receiver Isaiah Spencer and Madison Central’s defense was awarded a safety when Starkville was called for holding the end zone for Madison Central’s other points.
Petty completed 8 of 15 passes for 129 yards and one TD and ran for 67 yards on 17 carries and two TDs.