by Megan Murray
After much anticipation, the Millsaps Majors and the Belhaven Blazers took to Harper Davis Field Thursday night to rekindle their rivalry. A record crowd of 3,500 was on hand to watch the kickoff of football season, and to see which team would prevail as the more dominant force in Jackson. After 60 minutes of impressive and intense play, the Majors decisively won the Riverside Rumble and bragging rights for the year with a final score of 52-23.
The Majors were hot from the start, scoring the first two touchdowns of the game. Taz Watson recorded the first with a three-yard run, while freshman quarterback Ty Proctor threw a 17-yard pass to Nick Glover to secure the second. After a failed kick and two-point conversion, respectively, the Majors still had a 12-0 lead. Belhaven rebounded with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Clayton Webb and a field goal by Alonso Acosta with no time left to play in the first quarter to make the score 12-9.
The second quarter was another back-and-forth scoring match. Proctor connected with Watson for a 17-yard touchdown pass. Then, Belhaven returned the favor with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Webb to Darien Thomas. With a failed kick from Millsaps’ Patrick McRaney and a good one from Belhaven’s Acosta, Belhaven cut the lead to only two (18-16) heading into halftime.
The second half of the Riverside Rumble was a one-sided event, belonging almost solely to the Majors. Millsaps started the second half with a vengeance. It took the Majors only 1:10 to secure a three-yard touchdown run from Proctor and a successful two-point conversion pass by Beau Wells, increasing their lead to 26-16. With 7:21 left in the third quarter, Belhaven scored a touchdown thanks to a 24-yard connection between Webb and Shaquan Holmes. This was, however, the last time Belhaven put points on the board in the game. The Majors then ran away with the game. The remainder of the third quarter included a 30-yard touchdown conversion from Proctor to Wells and a 17-yard touchdown run by Andrew Warren. The Majors had no mercy in the fourth quarter and capitalized on Belhaven’s mistakes. Gary Roberts secured an interception and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown. Finally, Andrew Warren scored a five-yard touchdown run to tally the score to a final of 52-23.
Ty Proctor, a sophomore, appeared in his first start at quarterback for the Majors. He commented of his preparation, “I was a little nervous this whole week, but especially before the game started. I felt well prepared, and after the first series I settled in. My linemen do a fantastic job, and I have a lot of playmakers around me [who] made my first start a whole lot easier.” He went 12-19, tallying 122 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, and no interceptions. Proctor additionally recorded 40 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown.
“On the offensive side, our goals were simple. Possess the ball, move the ball, and score, which we did extremely well. We executed what we’ve been practicing and set ourselves up for a victory,” he said, “We have a lot of young guys playing for us, and they all stepped up to play a big role.”
In total, the Majors compiled 140 passing yards and 213 rushing yards, while forcing six turnovers. Coach Aaron Pelch said, “It feels great [to get our first win]. After the way we finished the season last year, I think winning this game, especially being such a big rivalry game, [is] great.”
“[I liked] the continuity,” Pelch added. “They came together as a team and worked together as a team. Nobody got down on each other. Offense picked up the side for the defense and the defense did the same. It was an unbelievable team effort.”
The Majors travel to Belton, Texas, for their first away game against Mary Hardin-Baylor Saturday. Coach Pelch has simple expectations for the rest of the season: “Win!”