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War Eagles fall to Maroon Tide, 31-14
By Paul Keane
Take away the first quarter, and it's a ballgame between Picayune and Wayne County High School in Friday night's second-round football playoff game at War Eagle Stadium.
Unfortunately for the home team, turnovers and a big opening kickoff return gave the Maroon Tide a short field for most of the first eight minutes, allowing PHS to score 21 unanswered points en route to a 31-14 victory. The Maroon Tide advances to face Laurel in the 5A South State Championship Game while the War Eagles end their season with a district title and a 10-3 record.
"We dug ourselves into a deep hole in the first quarter," Head Coach Todd Mangum said. "Anything other than a player being struck by lightning happened in that first quarter.
"At halftime, I told the kids to win the second half, and they did. They came out and played hard and never quit. I'm proud of the what they've accomplished. We have back-to-back region championships and we finished 10-3. I would rather be 10-3 than 3-10, and I am proud of what this team accomplished this year."
The Maroon Tide got things started quickly, returning the opening kickoff to the WCHS 28-yard line. Six plays later, Davion Greene scored on a 7-yard run, and the Jackson Samples extra made it 7-0 with 9:12 left in the first quarter of play.
On the ensuing series, PHS picked off a pass and returned it 44 yards to the War Eagles' 8-yard line. Four plays later, Preston Dedeaux scored on a 1-yard run. The defense forced a punt and seven plays later, Picayune used a 22-yard pass play to open up a 21-0 lead with 2:59 left in the first quarter.
The Maroon Tide defense picked off a tipped pass on the next play, allowing the offense to set up at the 33-yard line. Cadarius Pannell intercepted a pass and returned it 91 yards for an apparent touchdown for WCHS, but a block in the back penalty nullified the score.
The offense drove down to the PHS 27-yard line before the drive stalled, and Wayne County's defense then forced the only PHS punt of the night, allowing the offense to set up at its own 43-yard line. Another tipped pass led to an interception, and it took Picayune only eight plays before Dedeaux scored on a 1-yard run. The Samples extra point opened up a 28-0 lead with 4:48 left before halftime.
Picayune's defense held again, holding a fourth-and-5 pass play to only 1 yard, allowing the offense to take over at its own 27. Eight plays later, time was running out and Samples came on to boot a 27-yard field goal that made it 31-0 at the intermission.
The War Eagles took the second half kickoff and put together one of its best drives of the night, marching 60 yards in 10 plays before Elijah Pugh scored on an 8-yard run. Brandon McCary booted the extra point to cut the deficit down to 31-7.
Picayune then took over at the 8:43 mark of the period and proceeded to eat up 8:02 off the clock. While not resulting in points, it did put the War Eagles in a situation where they would have to score quickly to get back into the game.
Taking over at their own 30-yard line, the War Eagles marched 70 yards in five plays, capping things off with a 2-yard run from Pugh. The McCary extra point made it 31-14 with 11:45 left in the game.
Again, the Maroon Tide put together an impressive drive that ate up plenty of time off the clock, ending the drive when Keyshawn Cooley picked off a pass in the end zone. By the time the offense got the ball back after that turnover, there was only 5:01 left in the contest.
A drive stalled near midfield, and PHS proceeded to eat up even more clock, finally turning the ball over on downs with 16 seconds remaining in the contest. The War Eagles drove down to inside the PHS 30-yard line as time expired.
For the night, the Maroon Tide held the ball for 36:19 while the War Eagles had it for a paltry 11:41. PHS rushed for 355 yards while the War Eagles managed 224 on the ground and 91 through the airways.
PICAYUNE 31, WCHS 14
PHS 21 10 0 0 — 31
WCHS 0 0 7 7 — 14
PHS — 9:12, Davion Greene 7-yard run. Jackson Samples kick.
PHS — 6:44, Preston Dedeaux 1-yard run. Samples kick.
PHS — 2:59, 22-yard pass play. Samples kick.
PHS — 4:48, Dedeaux 1-yard run. Samples kick.
PHS — 0:01, Samples 27-yard field goal.
WCHS — 8:49, Elijah Pugh 8-yard run. Brandon McCary kick.
WCHS — 11:45, Pugh 2-yard run. McCary kick.
FIRST DOWNS: WCHS 15, PHS 23
RUSHES-YARDS: WCHS 27-224, PHG 67-355
PASSES: WCHS 11-25-3, PHS 1-4-2
PASSING YARDS: WCHS 91, PHS 22
FUMBLES-LOST: WCHS 1-0, PHS 1-0
PENALTIES-YARDS: WCHS 7-65, PHS 12-95
PUNTS-AVERAGE: WCHS 1-27.0, PHS 1-17.0
RETURN YARDS: WCHS 96, PHS 89
THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS: WCHS 1-of-9, PHS 7-of-16
FOURTH DOWN CONVERSIONS: WCHS 3-of-6, PHS 3-of-5
TIME OF POSSESSION: WCHS 11:41, PHS 36:19
Elijah Pugh 19-167, David Hodo 7-49, Cadarius Pannell 1-8.
David Hodo 11-25-3 91 yards.
Dejarvis Chambers 4-53, Cortlen Sims 4-15, DaShon Philon 2-20, Elijah Ppugh 1-3.
Hayden Shelby 19, Jamal Powe 17, Tramond Lofton 13, Ronald Ollie 10, Denzel Bonner 10, JacQuan White 9, Keyshawn Cooley 9, Quenten Hogan 8, Cadarius Pannell 8, DeCarlos Walker 7, Benito Jones 6, Tymdrick Parker 5, Chandler Pugh 2, Tyree Evans 1, DeAndre Gandy 1.
Quenten Hogan 1.
Cadarius Pannell 1, Keyshawn Cooley 1.
Keyshawn Cooley 1.