Picayune’s ground attack was on full display in its 62-21 win over Long Beach on Friday at Lumpkin-Magee Stadium. The Maroon Tide’s rushing game produced 461 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on the night.
Shaun Anderson led the Maroon Tide (8-1, 4-1 Region 4-5A) attack with 273 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the night. David Baker added 70 yards and two touchdowns.
The Maroon Tide scored three first-quarter touchdowns, the first on a 73-yard Anderson run on the the first play from scrimmage. Baker scored on a 5-yard carry on the second Maroon Tide possession, and Blake Merrifield on a 24-yard carry on the third possession.
The second quarter was more of the same as Anderson broke free for a 35-yard score on the second play of the quarter. Four plays later, the Maroon Tide capitalized on a Long Beach turnover — an interception — as Anderson scored from 13 yards out to put the Maroon Tide up 34-7 with nine minutes to play in the second quarter.
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“I still know we can cover kicks and play defense better,” said Picayune coach Dodd Lee. “We’re trying to make our team better. I thought we did a lot of good things, but that’s not what we’re concerned about. We’ve got to play better defense. We’ve got to cover kicks better. We’ve got to play with a little more emotion. We’ve got to establish some leadership on defense if we want to be better.”
One week after Picayune’s defense gave up 35 points after the third quarter, the Maroon Tide kept the pedal depressed and held off the Bearcats, not allowing a second half score. The Maroon Tide scored twice in the second half on a 1-yard Skylar Bowman keeper and a 27-yard Jortin Raine run.
Long Beach opened the game with an impressive drive, keeping the Maroon Tide defense off balance with screen passes and slants, but the Bearcats failed to score. The Bearcats tied the game on their second possession on a 1-yard Jaylen Bankston carry.
The Bearcats (2-8, 0-5) scored again on their next possession as Cade Crosby connected with Mathew Cropper for a 13-yard score; Long Beach trailed 34-14 with 7:46 remaining on the second quarter clock. Later in the quarter, the two connected again on a 73-yard pass play, bringing the score to 41-21.
But the Bearcats could not score at the pace Picayune kept the points coming, as the Maroon put up 28 points in the second quarter, giving them a 48-21 lead at halftime.
“We’re really good from 20 (yardline) to 20,” said Long Beach coach Forrest Williams. “We just didn’t finish. That’s been the story all year. We’ve got some young players. We’ve just got to step up and make plays.
“Picayune is a real good team. I knew we were going to struggle defensively to stop them,” added Williams. “The fumble on the third drive really set us back.”