STARKVILLE, Miss., - Friday night Noxubee County knew the deck would be stacked against them.
The Tigers opened up the 2012 season on the road at Starkville, home of the defending Class 5A North champions and considered by many the favorite to return to Jackson this year.
Noxubee County head coach Tyrone Shorter knew it would be vital for his team to strike early to combat the adverse circumstances. The Tigers did just that with a 61-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage and defensively picked off a pass on their second snap.
Those two plays set the tone for the entire game as Noxubee County walked away with a 29-8 victory over the Yellow Jackets.
"We told the kids in the locker room that we have to strike first," Shorter said. "We had to strike first and that's what we did. Coming into Starkville tonight we knew it was going to be tough. Our coaching staff knew it was going to be tough facing a top 10 team and are favored to win (Class) 5A."
On the second play from scrimmage, the Tigers running back Darrell Robinson busted through the line of scrimmage and past the next two levels of Starkville defenders and was off to the races for a 61-yard score less than a minute into the game.
Shorter believes that single play established their offense for the rest of the evening.
"That set the tone of the game," Shorter said. "We felt like we could run the football on them. That set the tone when he broke that long run. We knew as the game went with our experienced offensive line that we could run the football."
Robinson also fed off that strong start finishing the game with 195 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. The 5-foot-10, 191-pound senior totaled 299 all-purpose yards for the game.
"We knew we had to come out fast because we were away," Robinson said. "We knew our defense would hold up the whole game and they only thing we had to do was come out and score and we'd come out with the win. That's what happened."
Noxubee County finished the game with 317 total yards with 265 coming on the ground.
"For them to do what they did to our defense was just mind boggling," said Starkville head coach Jamie Mitchell. "We usually play good defense and they just shredded us. That's nothing but credit to (Noxubee County). They did a phenomenal job."
The Tigers have always been known for their defensive prowess and this year is no different. On the first snap, 6-foot-7, 367-pound defensive tackle Deshawn Hopkins buried Starkville quarterback Gabe Myles in the backfield for a two-yard loss.
On the second play Noxubee County forced Myles, a Mississippi State commitment, to heave up an interception to Antravion Jamison. Myles completed just 1-of-11 passing for six yards and rushed 18 times for 10 yards. "I told our kids that we had to stop their No. 5 (Myles)," Shorter said. "We had to stop him. Our kids and our coaching staff did a very good job of planning for No. 5 and that's what we did tonight. I thought we took them out of their game."
From then on out it was the Dylan Bradley show for the Tigers defense. The senior defensive end recorded four sacks and a barrage of tackles for loss seemingly living in the Starkville backfield.
"This is just the beginning," Bradley said. "It's going to be better next week and the week after that. It's going to be hectic and I'm going to terrorize a lot of quarterbacks this year."
The dominate start on both sides of the ball not only set the tone for Friday night but also for the entire season. Noxubee County finished 2011 at 10-3 making a second round exit in the Class 4A State Playoffs following a 21-20 defeat by Amory.
Shorter feels Friday night's victory over the Yellow Jackets should serve notice to the rest of Class 4A that they plan on sticking around a little longer this year.
"This is a big statement," Shorter said. "Coming into this football game we knew we had a good football team. We just had to put it together. We just wanted to let everybody know that we're not being cocky. These kids felt like we got out of the playoffs a little bit too early last year."