By Mack Gordon
WATER VALLEY – The Blue Devils (10-2) advanced to the second round of the MHSAA 3A Playoffs after defeating the Yazoo County Panthers (6-6) at home in opening playoff action. The Panther’s hung around until halftime, but the Blue Devils pulled away in the second half en route to a 34-6 victory. The Blue Devils defense had another dominant performance, forcing 8 turnovers and scoring two touchdowns.
The win advanced Water Valley to the second round, where they’ll face the Booneville Blue Devils (11-0) on the road in Booneville this Friday. Booneville defeated Aberdeen 23-12 to advance to the second round.
Water Valley got on the board first in their 34-6 win over Yazoo County. Tay Rucker punched it in from two yards out on the Blue Devils first offensive possession of the game, taking the early 6-0 lead. The Panthers would quickly answer as Kory Gainwell scored on a 62-yard touchdown run to knot things up at 6-6 midway through the first quarter.
Water Valley would strike again late in the second quarter as Jacob Truss found the endzone from two yards out, putting the Blue Devils up 13-6 heading into the half.
The Water Valley defense would extend the lead midway through the third quarter as Darius Tolbert scored on a 16-yard pick six, putting the Blue Devils up 20-6. The defense would continue to overpower the Panthers in the second half, not allowing them to move the ball with much success.
Truss would put the final nail in the coffin late in the fourth quarter, scoring his second touchdown of the night on a four-yard touchdown run. Tolbert wasn’t done yet however, as the junior defensive back returned another interception to the endzone for a score, extending the lead to 34-6.
The win improved the Blue Devils record to (10-2) and set up a second round matchup against Booneville. Both offenses have put up a lot of points this season, averaging 36.7 (Water Valley) and 34.3 (Booneville) respectively.
The winner of this battle of Blue Devils will take on the winner of Houston/M.S. Palmer in the third round.