SEMINARY, MS (WDAM) - Bassfield High School coach Lance Mancuso was not thrilled with his Yellowjackets' 21-12 victory over rival Seminary High.
But Mancuso offered a tip of his cap to his players.
"That was awful, just awful," Mancuso said. "But I've got to give it the kids. We had kids falling out (from cramps), we had kids going in and out, and they just kept fighting, they just kept battling when they could have just as easily packed it in."
Senior running back Ron Thompson scored twice, including a 10-yard blast up the middle with less than four minutes to play that allowed Bassfield (1-0) to breathe easier after Seminary had pulled within three points with 5:35 to play.
"I'm proud of the effort, not necessarily proud of the outcome, obvisouly," Seminary coach Brain Rials said. "Hopefully, that's one of the best teams that we play this year and I know (Thompson) is one of the best running backs that we'll play. We hit them in the mouth all night, and they just kept coming."
A standing-room-only crowd witnessed a first game that featured 26 penalties, including nearly a dozen illegal procedure and delay-of-game-penalties.
Bassfield fumbled three times, losing two, while Seminary lost a fumbled away a score at the goal line that would have given the Bulldogs the lead through the third quarter.
"We're not a very good football team right now," Mancuso said of the four-time Class 2A defending state champions. "We've got some potential, but we've got a lot to work through."
Seminary scored on the opening possession of the game when Wendell Crosby went around left end and outran the pursuit down the sideline for a 6-0 Bulldogs' lead.
Bassfield took a 7-6 lead on its next possession, when Thompson capped an 82-yard drive with a 19-yard run.
The score stayed that way until just before halftime, when a Seminary snap flew over the punter's head and through the end zone for a safety that gave the Yellowjackets a 9-6 lead at the break.
Seminary recovered a Bassfield fumble at the Yellowjackets' 33-yard line to open the third quarter. The Bulldogs drove to a third-and-goal from the 5-yard line when Crosby was stripped of the ball fighting for extra yardage and Bassfield recovered at the 1.
From there, the Yellowjackets put together a 99-yard drive that ate up the last six minutes of the third quarter and first 43 seconds of the fourth. Quarterback Cason Sims plowed in from the 3-yard line to put Bassfield up 15-6.
"That was the difference in the game, right there," Mancuso said.
Seminary got back in the game after partially blocking a punt that set the Bulldogs up at the Yellowjackets' 45.
A halfback option pass from Tyveron Morgan to Javin Moore went for 30 yards to the 15, and two plays later, quarterback Jeff Miller lofted a pass to tight end Nathan Pickering that made the score 15-12 with 5:35 to play.
But sophomore James Washington broke a 60-yard run on Bassfield's nest possession down to Seminary's 17-yard line. Three plays later, Thompson bulled up the middle for the final points of the game with 3:31 to play.
Friday's game marked the end of the rivalry between the schools. Bassfield will merge with Prentiss County in 2017-18, with the new school bearing a new name.
"We've got a lot of work to do," Thompson said. "This is Bassfield's last year, so we have to go out with a bang."