For six days, their disappointing loss at Sterling Newman, a game they led 21-10 at halftime only to fall 25-21, weighed heavily on the Princeton Tigers. On Friday night, PHS washed that bad taste out of its mouth.
Princeton dominated rival St. Bede 49-7 in the Three Rivers Mississippi Conference opener at Bryant Field, invoking the running clock late in the third quarter with its seventh score of the game.
“Coming off a hard loss like that, you get to come out and with all that anger, and that’s what we did. And we played as a team, we won as a team and came out angry as a team,” said junior running back Ronde Worrels, who scored four touchdowns and rushed for 126 yards.
PHS coach Ryan Pearson was pleased to see his team respond so well after last week’s defeat.
“Obviously last week was a disappointing loss for our kids. At the same time, this is the first conference game for us. Goal No. 1 is to win the big side of the conference, and we accomplished the first step tonight,” he said.
Worrels gave the Tigers a 14-7 lead with a 13-yard touchdown late in the first quarter.
After the Tigers recovered an onside kick, Worrels cashed in a five-yard score on the first play of the second quarter to make it 21-7 with Jamie Reinhardt’s PAT kick.
Pearson said the onside kick was planned going in.
“Something we saw alignment-wise we wanted to take advantage of. We were trying to steal an offensive possession, and we are able to come out to do that,” he said.
Worrels followed a one-yard dive by quarterback Tyler Gibson with an 11-yard touchdown 25.9 seconds left in the first half to give the Tigers a 35-7 halftime lead.
Worrels added his fourth touchdown of the night early in the third quarter to make it 42-7, crediting his line for their work up front.
“I would say maybe one of those was me and three of those was the line probably,” he said.
Jacob Starr’s 12-yard run finished out the scoring at 49-7 with 2:58 left in the third quarter.
“We ran the ball and passed the ball effectively. And hat’s off to our defense. They did a great job after that first touchdown. Special teams had a great game with the onside kick with Jamie,” Pearson said.
Noah Atkinson kick-started the Tigers with a 63-yard touchdown less than three minutes into the game.
St. Bede responded nicely, mounting 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capped by a 28-yard TD strike from quarterback Braden Damerell to Tyreke Fortney with 3:55 left in the first quarter.
Princeton, however, dominated the rest of the game.
“I was happy with (our scoring drive), but I wasn’t real happy with what we did the rest of the time,” St. Bede coach Jim Eustice said. “We really have a lot of work to do. It’s a good football team (Princeton), but some of the things we did we need to stop. The young team is no longer an excuse. They’ve had three varsity games now; it’s time to start strapping it up and growing up.”