GULFPORT-- Christian Collegiate Academy defeated Kemper Academy 43-42 on Friday night to earn a berth in the MAIS 8-man state championship game.
The unbeaten Bulldogs (12-0) faces Tallulah, La. at 10 a.m. Thursday in the state finls at Millsaps College.
"These guys bought in, we started this five years ago," CCA coach Joe Roberts said. "We always say each team should leave the program better than they found it. This year's team took it to another level."
Defensive back Micah Williams's interception with 1:15 left to play sealed the Bulldogs' win.
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"He ran a simple out route and I was trying to get over the top of it," Williams said. "The quarterback started scrambling. I noticed on the previous third down play he scrambled and went
to my man, so I was prepared."
Quarterback Devan Roberts had 127 passing yards and 78 rushing yards, accounting for three total touchdowns, two passing and one receiving. In addition, he scored on a pair of two-point
"I tried to keep my guys calm," Roberts said. "I kept my cool and it helped the rest of the team do their jobs."
CCA running back T.J. Clolinger had 141 rushing yards and 50 passing yards with four touchdowns. He also threw a 50-yard TD pass to Devan Roberts.
"My offensive line was blocking great for me," Clolinger said. "I managed to break a few tackles and get the yards we needed to score."
The semifinal loss was the only defeat for Kemper Academy (11-1).
"Coach Roberts has a heck of a football team," Rams coach Pete McCleskey said. "I felt like we could stay with them if we could stop them. I felt like we could score, but that last drive killed us."