Picayune falls to West Point 38-26 in title game
Audio replay of Picayune s West Point (Click Here)
Hattiesburg—Picayune played three-time defending state champion West Point Green Wave almost even for a half, but the Green Wave was able to hold off the Maroon Tide in the second half and won 38-26 to claim the Class 5A title at USM's M.M Roberts Stadium.
Picayune scored first on a 9 yard run by Cameron Thomas capping off a 13 play 73 yard drive on the first possession of the game that last 6:25. Austin Samples kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
West Point responded by driving 68 yard in 7 plays with Brandon Harris scoring from 3 yards out with 2:13 left in the quarter to tie the game at 7-7 after Alexander Harper’s extra point.
West Point held the Maroon Tide on the next possession and took over at the 50 yard line after the Picayune punt.
The Green Wave scored five plays later on a 18 yard touchdown pass from Corbin Kelly to T.J. Anderson and Harper’s point after made it 14-7 with 10:32 left in the second quarter.
Another defensive stand by West Point forced another Maroon Tide punt giving the Green Wave the ball at its own 37. Three plays later, Harris found a wide open Jordan Rupert for a 52 yard touchdown pass with 8:07 left before half.
All photos by Deanna Hunt
Austin Samples (2) with a run in the second quarter
After an exchange of punts, Picayune got the ball at its 24 yard line.
Thomas busted loose and raced down the right sideline in front his bench for the 76 yard touchdown. Samples point after made it 21-14 with 3:05 left in the second quarter.
On West Point’s first play after the kickoff, Jalen Hall got his 7th interception of the year on a Kelly pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown. The point after was wide right leaving the score at 21-20 with 2:47 left in the half.
Hall interception return for a touchdown
West Point scored on the first possession of the second half on a 8 play 63 yard drive with Harris running it in from 5 yards out. Harper’s extra point made 28-20 with 7:35 left in the third quarter.
Picayune next possession started at the Maroon Tide 17, took 12 plays, consumed 6:26, but ended with a Picayune punt from the West Point 46.
West Point then went on an 11 play 73 yard drive that took 7:24 off the clock and produced a 24 yard field goal by Harper to make it 31-20 with 6:15 left in the game.
Kade Turnage (34) makes a tackle
Picayune struck quickly on its first play after the kickoff on a 70 yard touchdown pass from Isaac Hickman to Thomas. Picayune’s two point conversion was unsuccessful and the Maroon Tide trailed 31-26 with 5:55 to play.
West Point responded with a 5 play 63 yard drive with Kelvionte Gibbs scoring on a 2 yard run with 3:54 left. Harper converted the point after to make 38-26.
Picayune took over at its 37 after the kickoff and moved the ball to the West Point 7, but a fourth pass fell in complete with 1:11 left.
Thomas led Picayune with 147 yards on 21 carries. He finished the season with 3,518 rushing yards which is the new single season rushing record for a single season in the state of Mississippi. He also had 48 rushing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns. He led the nation in rushing for this season.
Hickman completed 4 of 10 passes for 104 yards.
“We had our chances. They might have been a little tougher than we were, “ Head Coach Dodd Lee told WRJW radio moments after the game.
“They hadn’t won four championships in a row for nothing. We haven’t been in many wars like that. They just kept pounding us and pounding us. Our kids never gave up and we kept fighting, we just didn't quite get it done”, Lee added.
Picayune finishes the season 14-1 and set a record for wins in a season in Lee’s 24th and last season as head coach of the Maroon Tide.