Picayune storms back to win Class 5A State Championship
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Hattiesburg—Down 14-3 in the second quarter, Picayune scored 21 unanswered points and held off West Point to claim the Class 5-A State Championship with a 31-21 win at USM’s M.M. Roberts Stadium. The win gives the Maroon Tide back-to-back state championships and extended their winning streak to 26 games.
Picayune scored on its first possession of the game on Morgan Craft’s 27 yard field goal with 6:10 left in the first quarter.
West Point scored on the fifth play of their first possession on a 41 yard pass from Quinterion Tillman-Evans to Ahmari Cox to take the lead 7-3 with 3:59 left in the quarter after the extra point by Corbin Hendricks.
Picayune’s next possession ended on downs when a 4th down pass was incomplete in the end zone. Two plays later, Tillman-Evans found Cox for a 86 yard touchdown pass to push the lead to 14-3 with 9:00 left in the second quarter.
Photos by Trenton Gascho (unless otherwise noted)- WRJW Sports
Dante Dowdell (2) turns the corner against West Point.
The Maroon Tide cut the lead to 14-9 with a 10 play drive using 5 minutes and 40 secs with Dante Dowdell plunging in from 1 yard out with 3:20 left. The point after was no good.
Tyran Warren (26) after catching a pass for a Maroon Tide first down.
West Point got the ball to start the third quarter and the Maroon Tide defense forced a three and out with the punt giving Picayune the ball at its 43. Five plays later Dowdell busted loose for 22 yard touchdown run and a 2 point conversion by Chris Davis put Picayune up 17-14 with 8:20 left in the quarter.
Zavion Coleman (51) and Nate Hickman after a tackle in the third quarter.
West Point converted two first downs before having to punt the ball away. Picayune took over at its 20. Facing third and 10 to go, Brady Robertson completed a pass to Darrell Smith at the 25. Smith broke a tackle at his 40, the West Point 35, and the West Point 10 on his way down the Picayune sideline scoring the touchdown with 1:15 left in the third quarter. Morgan Craft’s extra point put the Maroon Tide up 24-14.
Picayune was penalized on the ensuing kickoff due to celebration penalty on Smith’s touchdown. West Point started their possession at the Picayune 46 after the kickoff return. Five plays later Kahnen Daniels scored on a 8 yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 24-21 with 11:54 left.
Darnell Smith (41) leads the way for Dante Dowdell (2)
Starting at its 36 after the kickoff, Picayune went 8 plays using 5 minutes and 1 seconds with Dowdell scoring on a 37 yard run for his 32nd touchdown of the season. Craft’s point after was good to make it 31-21 with 6:53 left.
Picayune’s defense produced a turnover when Damarius Magee forced a fumble and pounced on the ball at the West Point 40. Picayune ran 10 plays and took a victory formation snap at the West Point 1 yard to run out the clock.
Head Coach Cody Stogner was elated with his team’s performance.
“It was a tale of two halves. We made some adjustments and had some big plays in the second half. I’m just so proud these guys.”
He added, “In the first half, we gave up two big plays, but we were moving the ball on offense. It just came down to ‘want to and will’. I’ve said it before, these guys are not normal. I’m so proud to be their coach.”
Photo by Donald Balch / WRJW Sports
Picayune (15-0) dominated in time of possession with 33:33 to West Point’s 14:27.
Dowdell, the Class 5A Player of the Year, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. He had 190 yards on 28 carries. Davis added 104 yards on 16 carries and Darnell Smith had 7 totes for 37 yards.
The Maroon Tide defense was led by Amarion Tyson with 7 tackles and Jabari McWilliams with 6 tackles.