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Water Valley topples Booneville to advance to 3A quarterfinals

By Jared Redding

BOONEVILLE — Water Valley head coach Brad Embry told his team after the game that “ballers ball” no matter what conditions or weather may come. His team did just that Friday night.

The Water Valley Blue Devils (11-2) used a dominant second half to knock off the Booneville Blue Devils 41-14 and hand them their first and only loss in 2018. Water Valley will now take on the Houston Hilltoppers in the Class 3A quarterfinal round.

A cold atmosphere and muddy field on the campus of Northeast Mississippi Community College didn’t phase Water Valley in this game.

“You don’t need to make excuses and you don’t need to look at circumstances,” Embry said. “That’s football and that’s life. When you have a job, you have a responsibility to perform. We came out and I was really proud of us tonight.”

Tay Rucker led the Blue Devils, scoring five touchdowns on the night. Three of which in the second half when Water Valley moved the ball almost at will.

“(Rucker) is that guy,” Embry said. “He’s been banged up throughout the season. He played well, but all of them did. It was a team effort.”

Defensively, Water Valley shut down Booneville’s 1,200-yard running back, Dallas Gamble, for most of the night despite a few big gains in the first quarter.

“Our defense is fast,” Embry said. “(Gamble) is a great player. They have a lot of great players. We did a good job of getting some good momentum and keeping it.”

The majority of that momentum came late in the first half after Booneville’s L.J. Shumpert punched in a two-yard score after a big trick play.

With 3:40 left until halftime, Rucker led Water Valley into Booneville territory and Blayne Clark completed a 3rd and 11 pass to Jacob Welch to the one-yard line. That play was followed by Rucker’s second touchdown to give Water Valley a 14-7 lead at halftime.

“In a big game, you have to use them all,” Embry said. “Every drive is crucial.”

Water Valley held off a comeback attempt by Booneville in the fourth quarter after a Gamble touchdown pass. Rucker’s fifth score and Bud Tolbert’s pick-six as time expired followed.