There were about three seconds after Keon Moore appeared to plunge into the end zone Friday night that must have been agonizing for both Pascagoula and host Harrison Central.
Trailing by six points in the first overtime frame against Pascagoula, the Red Rebels faced a fourth-and-goal from the 1.
Moore, who was moved to quarterback several weeks ago, took the snap and torpedoed his way through the line. At first glance it appeared Pascagoula’s defense may have stood up Moore, but after several seconds the referees signaled touchdown. Once HCHS calmed its sideline, the Red Rebels sent out their kicking unit for the win.
Instead of a gimme extra-point, however, HCHS had to pull out a remarkable play to top the Panthers 29-27.
The snap was good, but holder K.J. Means struggled to promptly place the ball on the tee. With a Panther defender diving in front of where the kick should have been, Means rolled to his right and lofted a pass to J.D. Dillion, all along in the back right corner of the end zone for the 2-point conversion.
“We practice all the time; it’s fire-fire-fire. When you miss the snap, you just have to turn out,” Means said. “We never gave up. We wanted to win bad. My team didn’t give up and I didn’t give up. We don’t give up.”
Long after the Red Rebels (2-3, 1-0) finished rushing the field, Dillon still clutched the football.
“The only thing I was thinking about was catching the ball,” he said. “It was crazy. So crazy.”
Pascagoula (2-3, 0-1) jumped out to a 14-0 lead on touchdown runs of 1 and 4 yards by quarterback Jonas Burley.
Moore got HCHS on the scoreboard with a 9-yard scamper. After Dalvin Abney got involved in the scoring with a long 47-yard dash down the HCHS sideline, Moore struck again with a 59-yard run to round out the first-half scoring.
Entering halftime, Abney had a game-high 188 yards on 20 carries, while Moore had collected 176 on 11 touches.
Defense steps up
Contrasted against the first half, the final 24 minutes were much more of a defensive battle until Moore broke around the right side of his line for a 26-yard score to tie the game 21-21 with 5:34 remaining.
Moore finished with a game-high 321 yards and four touchdowns.
“He’s just a warrior,” HCHS coach Case Cain said. “We changed offense from the spread. We really don’t have a quarterback in our offense so he’s having to do it all.
“Big shoulders for him, but he’s a true warrior.”
Cain was proud of how his defense stepped up in the second half. While Abney broke free for runs of 25, 15, 47 and 46 yards in the first half, HCHS contained him to just one 10-yard run in the second half.
“You have to tip your hat to the defense,” Cain said. “We shut them out in the second half and if we don’t do that, we don’t win.”
Abney scored Pascagoula’s overtime touchdown on a 1-yard run to finish with 232 yards on 39 carries.
“He plays with a lot of heart and a lot of dedication,” Pascagoula coach Lewis Sims said. “He has really bought into what we’re doing. He’s a tough nut.”
Harrison Central will visit Biloxi next week. Like the Red Rebels, the Indians will likely be riding high after upsetting D’Iberville 26-23. The Panthers, meanwhile, have to turn around and play a Gulfport Admirals team that just beat St. Martin 30-7. Although Friday’s game was a punch in the stomach, Sims said he’s not worried about how his kids will respond.
“Our guys are pretty good about bouncing back. Our guys understand what the deal is; it’s all about learning and moving forward,” he said. “Football is a game of inches and you have to fight and claw for every inch. Tonight, Harrison Central fought for that extra inch.”