Purvis used a strong defense to hold Moss Point out of the end zone Friday night for a 10-3 first-round Class 4A state playoff victory.
The Tornadoes advance to next week’s second-round contest at West Lauderdale, who defeated North Pike 21-11.
For both coaches – Perry Wheat of Purvis and Willie Brown of Moss Point – the red zone became uncharted territory. The only score of the game – a 14-yard scamper by John Bolton of Purvis – came after the Tornadoes took over on the Moss Point 14-yard line after an interception by Dylan Curtis.
“It was a close game, but I thought our defense played outstanding,” Wheat said. “We were pretty conservative on offense and out offense sputtered throughout most of the game.”
Moss Point coach Willie Brown said he thought his kids gave all they could.
“We asked the kids to play as hard as they could,” he said about his Tigers (5-5). “I thought they did. We just couldn’t get any points whenever we got inside the red zone. The defenses controlled the game for both of us.”
For Purvis, an offense that had been averaging 335 total yards per game managed only 191 yards – 137 rushing and 56 yards passing. Meanwhile, Moss Point relied on the strength of senior running back Omni Wells, who entered the game with 1,096 yards on the season. He rushed 27 times for 185 yards, but the rest of the team contributed only 44 yards.
Purvis started the game by picking off an errant pass at the Tornadoes’ 16-yard line and drove to the Tigers’ 17-yard line in 14 plays before the offense stalled inches away from a first down. Neither team cmounted an offensive drive until Purvis moved the ball from its own 23 to the Moss Point 15-yard line in 10 plays.
Junior kicker Steven Anderson cracked the scoreboard for the Tornadoes with a 33yard field goal with 3:07 until intermission.
Curtis’ interception with 1:57 left led to the only touchdown in the game.
In the third quarter, Moss Point used ball control and Wells’ rushing attack to put together a 16-play, 63-yard drive that ended with Austin Herrerra’s 27-yard field goal with 3:03 left in the period.
Purvis had another chance for a field goal when Anderson split the uprights from 34 yards out with 9:17 left, but Moss Point was flagged for offsides. When Anderson booted the attempt from 29 yards, the ball went wide left.
Moss Point tried to gain momentum in the fourth quarter, but a 64-yard drive blew apart when the Tigers fumbled while attempting to convert a fourth-and-4 situation.