New Albany found themselves in an unfamiliar atmosphere, as they traveled to Itawamba for a Thursday night showdown with the top ranked Indians.
The Bulldogs could not get their offense going, as they watched several good drives pushed back to penalties, an area that head coach Ron Price has been trying to work on with his squad.
“That’s just focus, and we preach that to our kids every day. You have to focus an not do anything to hurt your team. It’s really hard to get five yards during a game, and to turn around and give them away, you just shoot your foot off. We’ve done that several times the last two weeks, and we just have to get refocused,” Price said.
Itawamba opened with two touchdowns in the first quarter, and the ‘Dawgs had missed opportunities to take advantage of Indian turnovers deep in their own territory, including one drive that started on the Indians’ 22-yard line.
New Albany opened the second quarter with an interception and a fumble on a punt return. The Indians would score once more before the half to make it 20-0.
Itawamba added on two more touchdowns in the third, and New Albany finally got on the board in the final quarter on a pass from Basil to Taylor Goode, making it 34-7, which would be the final.
Basil finished the night 6-for-19 for 86 yards, a touchdown and interception. Kareem Brown had good showing, rushing for 51 yards on 12 carries as well as 52 yards in the air off two receptions. Goode finished with two catches for 42 yards, while Zach Hand and Riley Alef each had five tackles for the defense.
“Itawamba has a great football team, as you could see tonight. They’re very physical, and they bring it to you. They don’t hold anything back, and every play they bring everything they have. That’s the level we want our program to get to. We’re making steps in that direction, but they’re not ranked number one in the state for nothing. We found out tonight that they’re a very good football team, and they gave us opportunities that we couldn’t cash in on. When you have a chance like that with a good football team, you have to take advantage of it. We just weren’t able to do that tonight,” Price said.
The Bulldogs will have a crucial division game this Friday night as they will host North Pontotoc. Currently the Vikings, New Albany and Tishomingo County are all at 0-2 in the division, battling for the final playoff spot behind the three undefeated teams, Itawamba, Pontotoc and Shannon.
“If we want to get in the playoffs, we have an opportunity next Friday night to take a step in that direction, and I think our kids are wanting that more than anything. They showed a lot of character here after the game tonight. They’re holding each other accountable, but we’re not pointing fingers at anyone, but they’re challenging each other to step up their game and to bring their best every single day. We have a great group of seniors leading us, and I think they’re going to keep us focused, and heading us down the right road,” Price said.
New Albany will host the Vikings this Friday night.