Led by David Baker, who returned recently from a Spring ACL injury, Picayune had three runners top the 100-yard mark Friday in a 56-21 Region 4-5A victory over Gautier.
After the game, Maroon Tide coach Dodd Lee wanted to talk about his defense, which gave up three Gautier touchdowns after Picayune (8-2, 5-1) went up 42-0 early in the third quarter.
“We did a lot of good things offensively,” Lee said. “But nobody wants to play defense.”
While Picayune returns 10 defensive starters from last year’s team that went to the South State finals, Lee believes the Maroon Tide needs to find leaders that will improve the team.
“We need to play with some passion,” he said. “We need someone on defense will make everyone better through their passion.”
Still, Lee found a lot he could be satisfied with, such as the return of Baker, who played in just his third game of the season. Baker went over 100 yards for his second time this year, finishing with 156 yards on 20 carries, scoring on runs of 25 and 4 yards.
“We have to get (Baker) back in shape,” Dodd said, saying that getting him 20 carries Friday was part of that plan. “We got some of the work we wanted to do done.”
Shaun Anderson, who came into the game averaging over 200 yards a game and over 9.1 yards per carry with 22 touchdowns also had a good night running the hall. Anderson touched the ball only 10 times, but made those carries count for 138 yards and scores of 1 and 36 yards.
Senior wingback V.J. Holt had an explosive night for the Maroon Tide, running the end around four times for 105 yards and a 16-yard score, his shortest carry of the night, and catching a 30-yard scoring pass from Tyler Penton, who was 3-of-5 passing for 79 yards. Penton also connected with Ronald Polk on a 21-yard scoring pass on Picayune’s first play from scrimmage.
For the night, nine Picayune players ran the ball gaining 510 yards on 46 carries.
“We got beat tonight by a much better football team,” said Gautier coach Chris Peterson. “They are a very, very talented football team built around a power running game. They have size and speed. They are a state championship-caliber football team.”
Peterson felt good about the play of Dayln McDonald, who was playing quarterback for the first time this year subbing for Kameron Kincaid, whose injured shoulder forced a move to slot receiver where he caught two passes.
McDonald ran for 131 yards and an 8 yard touchdown on 23 carries and found his rhythm passing in the second half. After hitting only 3-of-10 passes in the first half, he finished with 9-of-19 passing for 115 yards and scores of 37 yards to Makael Calhoun and 14 yards to Daylan Ray.
“I thought he did a very good job making plays for us,” Peterson said. “And once he got settled in, he started making plays in the passing game as well.”
Ray finished with four passes for 56 yards.
While Lee spoke of his defense needing to find leadership, Brian Taylor was all over the field for Picayune with nine stops. He also ran the ball three times for 46 yards. Jermiah Stallings added a defensive touchdown, running back a Gautier fumble 12 yards for the Maroon Tide’s first score of the second half.