Maroon Tide storms back to beat Laurel 32-28 to win South State

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Picayune—Down 28-17 heading into the fourth quarter, Picayune dominated the last quarter to beat Laurel 32-28 to claim the South State Championship at Lee-Triplett Stadium. With the win, the Maroon Tide moves into the State Championship game next Saturday at 7:00 p.m. against West Point at M.M.

Roberts Stadium on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi.


All photos by Randy Brown / WRJW Sports

Donte Dowdell (2) on his way to a 55 yard touchdown run.


After a three and out followed by a Laurel punt, the Maroon Tide marched 63 yards in 12 plays using 5 mins 51 seconds with Donte Dowdell scoring from 1 yard out with 4:35 showing on the clock. Morgan Craft kicked the extra point.

After the teams exchanged punts, Kiron Benjamin scored on a 78 yard run and the John Gonzalez point after tied the game at 7-7 with 10:34 left in the second quarter.


Picayune responded with a drive that culminated in a 32 yard field goal by Craft with 7:27 left.


The Maroon Tide defense stopped Laurel on fourth down at the Tornadoes’ 46, but Picayune gave it right back on the next play on an interception that gave Laurel the ball at the Maroon Tide 38.


Laurel’s completed a 27 yard pass and Benjamin scored on the next play for an 11 yard touchdown run. Gonzalez point after made it 14-10 with 3:32 left in the half.

Dowdell scored on the first play after the kickoff on a 55 yard run and Craft’s point after made it 17-14 with 3:19 left.


Laurel responded on a 7 play drive covering 63 yards with the touchdown coming on a 28 yard pass from Javonta Caldwell to Tyrone Jones and the Gonzalez extra point made it 21-17 with :41 left.


Justin Martz (3) hauls in a 44 yard pass


Picayune moved the ball to the Laurel 9 on a 44 yard pass from Dawson Underwood to Justin Martz, but the field goal attempt was no good on the last play of the half.


Picayune got the ball to start the third quarter and moved the ball from its 39 to the Tornadoes’ 7 before turning the ball over on downs.


Laurel took 9 plays to cover the 93 yards with the touchdown coming on a 39 yard pass from Caldwell to Jones on a 4th and 18 to go. Gonzalez made the point after for a 28-17 lead with 5:21 left in the quarter.


After an exchange of punts, Picayune got the ball at the Laurel 34 with 1:11 left in the third quarter. Fiver plays later, Dowdell busted in from 3 yards out. Picayune went for a two-point conversion in an attempt to make it a 3 point game, but Laurel stop the run play and the score was 28-23 with 11:43 left in the game.


The Maroon Tide defense forced another punt and gave the ball to the offense at the ball at the Picayune 43. Picayune moved the ball to the Laurel 1 yard line, but fumbled the ball and the Tornadoes recovered. Laurel converted a first down, but then the Maroon Tide defense held and forced a punt. Laurel purposedly snapped the ball over the punter’s head giving Picayune a safety to make it 28-25 with 3:25 left.


Chris Davis returned the Laurel free kick from the Picayune 34 to the Laurel 37. Five plays later, Davis scored on a 6 yard run and Craft’s extra point made it 32-28 with 1:22 left.

Dawson Underwood (7), Isaiah Evans (64), and Darnell Smith (41) lead the way for Donte Dowdell against Laurel


Picayune’s defense again was solid and Laurel turned the ball over on downs. The fourth down pass attempt was deflected by J.B. McWilliams. Picayune then snapped the ball and took a knee to end the game.


Dowdell ran for 271 yards on 35 carries and every yard he gained had a dose of fullback Darnell Smith blocking a Laurel player.


Head Coach Cody Stogner was emotional about this team’s resilience after being down 11 points.


“They never quit. They believed in each other and got it done. Some teams would have given up down eleven, but they kept plugging away,” Stogner stated.

“I’m so proud of what they've accomplished and we are not done. I wish everyone could see how hard these guys work Monday through Thursday to be ready for Friday night.”


Picayune (13-1) and West Point (11-0) played in the State Championship game in 2019 at USM.

@WRJW