STARKVILLE, Miss., - On South Panola's first play from scrimmage running back Qyendarius Griffin rushed to the right and was bottled up behind the line of scrimmage. But the 5-foot-10, 220-pounder stopped in his tracks, reversed field and cut up the left sideline for a 72-yard touchdown.
It was that kind of night for the nation's top rated team.
The Tigers amassed 476 yards of offense with 419 coming on the ground in a 47-13 win over Starkville.
"That first play was unbelievable," said South Panola head coach Lance Pogue. "I thought we were going to lose 10 yards because they had us outnumbered but the kid breaks it back and we reversed the field and had a bunch of blocks and he took it the distance. It was a big play. We've got some guys with big play capability but that was a lot of individual effort to get down the field and once he got down the field and a lot of guys were blocking. It gave us a good boost."
Griffin continued his big night churning out 291 yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns.
"He's a big-time back," Pogue said. "He's a physical guy at 220 but you saw his breakaway speed for a guy that size. He's got good agility and makes guys miss. He's about as good as you will find and a tough, strong guy on top of that."
With South Panola's success on the ground it kept their prolific receivers in check with modest numbers. Mississippi State commitment Nickalos Brassell caught four passes for 39 yards and a touchdown.
"With our running game, we've got some weapons at receiver but we didn't throw it as well as I'd have liked to tonight overall," Pogue said. "But we are capable and when you run the ball and mix in the passing game we've got a chance to be really good offensively."
Quarterback Lee Self completed 6-of-13 passing for 35 yards, a touchdown and two interception while Kendrick Market connected on 2-of-3 passing for 22 yards and two touchdowns out of the wildcat package. Market also added 51 yards on five carries.
The Tigers (10-0) built a 26-0 lead in the first quarter and cruised from there. Griffin scored the first two on the 72-yard run followed up by a 2-yard touchdown.
Kieddrick Flowers scooped up a Starkville fumble and returned it 34-yards for the next South Panola score. The final Tiger touchdown of the opening quarter came when Market tossed a 19-yard pass to Taylor Rotenberry in the end zone.
The Yellow Jackets got on the board with just over four minutes to play in the second quarter when Stanley Childs batted a Self pass into the air and picked it off racing 15-yards up the right sideline for the score.
But South Panola was able to answer back before the half. Market tossed his second touchdown of the first half on a 3-yard pass to Marcus Henry with 1:11 remaining to go up 33-7.
The Tigers added two more scores in the third quarter. Self hit Brassell in the back of the end zone from 3-yards out on the opening drive of the second half.
South Panola's final touchdown came on a 65-yard scamper by Griffin with 2:30 to play in the third quarter.
The Yellow Jackets only offensive score of the night came midway through the final quarter when Preston Baker ran in from 21-yards out.
Starkville (5-5) managed 214 yards of offense including 139 yards on the ground and 75 through the air.
"That's what they make a living at is getting you behind and getting you throwing the football more than you want to do it," said Starkville head coach Jamie Mitchell. "We'd have loved to be able to go with the run a little bit and hopefully stayed in the ball game. But it was like digging a hole out there and it's tough."
Jacquez Johnson completed 5-of-11 passing for 75 yards and added 31 yards on 10 carries.
Baker was the leading Yellow Jacket rusher with 71 yards on 11 attempts and a touchdown.
Shaquille Hill tops the Starkville receiving corps with three catches for 42 yards.
The Yellow Jackets will close out the regular season next week hosting Columbus in a pivotal Region I matchup with playoff implications.
"This one is going behind us very quickly," Mitchell said. "We don't even have time to even think about it. This will be the biggest game we've played and we've got to have this one to get in (to the playoffs). We've got to have some help but we can't worry about that. We can only take care of us and get to work as quickly as we can on Columbus."