Patrick Watts found his groove in the second half, rushing for two touchdowns as Resurrection dominated Noxapater 17-6 in the opening round of the Mississippi Class 1A playoffs Friday.
The Eagles (10-2) will travel next week to Louisville where they will take on Nanih Waiya. The Warriors (12-1) won Region 3-1A.
“We came out sluggish,” said Resurrection coach Scott Sisson. “We hurt ourselves in the first half. We had a few bad reads. We didn’t finish our routes. We had a lot of penalties.”
However, in the second half the Eagles got behind Watts, who came into the game with 1,286 yards and 22 touchdowns. After carrying the ball just nine times for 52 yards in the first half, Watts powered his way for 124 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.
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“The offensive line said to give it to him and they would open holes for him,” Sisson said. “The offensive line opened holes for him and he ran hard tonight.”
An illegal participation penalty pinned Resurrection deep at the end of the first half. However, Noxapater mishandled the second-half kickoff, pushing them back to the 14. The Eagles, who would allow first downs on only three Tigers drive, subsequently forced their fourth three-and-out of the game.
A short punt gave Resurrection the ball at the Noxapater 35. Seven plays later, Watts scored from the first.
On the Tigers second drive of the second half, an offensive facemask call and a seven yard loss on a reverse pass attempt was followed by a second poor punt giving the Eagles possession at Tigers 38. Watts got the ball six straight times, scoring from the 5 to put the Eagles up 17-6.
“We came out in the second half with much more focus,” Sisson said.
It would be all the scoring Resurrection needed as the Eagles defense stopped Noxapater (7-6) all night long. The Tigers could manage only four first downs on the night, one coming on a pass interference call against the Eagles and a second on a personal foul call.
“(Our defense) has been getting better all year,” Sisson said, noting the Eagles lost six starters from last year’s defense. “They have been improving each week.”
The Tigers lone score was set up by an interception by Keonte Daniels, who returned the ball to the Eagles 26 with 17 seconds left in the first half. On the first play after the pick, James Stalcup hit Daniels on a 26-yard pass play, giving Noxapater a 6-3 lead going into the half.
Caden Perez opened the scoring for Resurrection with a 26-yard field goal early in the second quarter.