Mississippi State freshman football player Keith Joseph Jr. was on the field at Pascagoula High School on Oct. 30 to watch head coach Lewis Sims address his former Panther teammates following a big win over Picayune.
Those same players jogged across the field to the same spot at War Memorial Stadium a week later following a 17-9 win over Gautier Friday. Despite the victory, there was no celebration -- only grief.
While the band began to play the school's fight song, Pascagoula players started to receive word that Keith Joseph Jr., 18, died that afternoon in an auto accident along with his father.
Players on both teams bent over in anguish, wandered around the field in disbelief. Coaches, teachers and administrators were all left stunned, trying to find out what had happened to one of Pascagoula's most promising former student-athletes and his father, a former Pascagoula and MSU football star.
The two men were killed in a single-vehicle accident just before 3 p.m. Friday 6 miles north of Leakesville in Greene County on Mississippi 57. Keith Joseph Jr. was driving the car when it left the road and entered the median.
The vehicle re-entered the southbound lanes of 57, overturning several times. Keith Joseph Jr. was ejected from the vehicle. The two men were pronounced dead on the scene about 3:30 p.m. by Greene County Coroner Ladd Pulliam.
The cause of the accident is under investigation.
They were on their way to attend Friday night's Pascagoula-Gautier football game.
Keith Jr. attended both schools, playing football at Gautier in his first two years of high school before transferring to play his junior and senior campaigns at Pascagoula.
On Saturday, the entire Jackson County community was still trying to process what took place.
"I just think everybody is still in shock. It's surreal," Pascagoula coach Lewis Sims said Saturday. "It really hasn't sunk in yet, but the outpouring of support from all over the state has been amazing."
Keith Jr., a defensive end, was sitting out this season at Mississippi State to receive a redshirt. Keith Sr., 44, was a standout at Pascagoula and played linebacker at Mississippi State from 1989-92. He ranks 10th in MSU history with 14 career sacks.
Keith Jr. once described his dad as "my biggest fan."
When the elder Joseph saw his son play football, it was like a flashback to his own playing days.
"That kid, he's like a mimic of me," he said in October of 2014. "The way he runs, the way he looks on the field."
The deaths of the two men hit home statewide with Mississippi State players, coaches and fans taking to social media to express their sorrow.
"We are deeply saddened and heartbroken by the tragic loss of Keith Jr. and his father," MSU coach Dan Mullen said in a press release. "Keith had such a promising future as a Bulldog following in the legacy started by Keith Sr., who played for our program 25 years ago. Keith was a great student, a hard worker and a great teammate to all of us. With heavy hearts, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Joseph family, our entire Mississippi State community and all of the lives these Bulldogs touched."
Pascagoula High School is no stranger to tragedy. Pascagoula football players Brandon Rich and Caleb Sweeten were killed in a water skiing accident on the Pascagoula River in May of 2013.
Sims recalled the "big bear hug" he shared with Keith Joseph Jr. when he attended the Pascagoula game on Oct. 30.
"I told him, 'Be safe, good luck and see you soon. Love you,'" Sims said. "You love 'em while you've got 'em. You're never guaranteed tomorrow."
Sims was unaware that the two men had planned on attending Friday's game.
"It didn't surprise me that they were coming to the game," Sims said. "Those (players) are part of his family. He wanted to support his teammates and be at the game. His dad was willing to come get him and bring him home so he could spend time with him."
When Sims walked into his office after Friday night's game, there was still a piece of paper on his desk where Keith Jr. had written down his new phone number the week before.
Tommy Dorsey and Jon Reynolds served as the Pascagoula radio crew Friday night and the two men closed out the broadcast by relaying the tragic news to listeners.
Reynolds developed a close bond with Keith Jr. this season while attending Mississippi State football games. He would visit Reynolds' tailgate site before and after games.
He was picking up a tradition left by the graduated Preston Smith, who is now a defensive end for the Washington Redskins. Each year, Reynolds and his family would take a photo with Smith so they would one day have a chance to see how Smith developed during his time at MSU.
Reynolds picked up that ritual with Keith Jr., taking a photo of the defensive end after MSU's last home game against Kentucky on Oct. 24 with three of Reynolds' children -- Corley, Frederic and Jon Eric.
"He was a sweet boy," Reynolds said. "He'd text me to make sure I'd be (in Starkville). He was only 18, but he was mature, pleasant."
Reynolds scanned his past text messages with Keith Jr. on Saturday.
"It had gotten to where it was a game day ritual, to text back and forth," he said. "In the last messages, he had told me after we left, 'It was good seeing y'all too.' Last text I got him from was, 'Y'all drive safe.'"