The Florence Eagles scored 14 second-quarter points and made them stand up, upending homestanding Pass Christian 14-7 Friday in the opening round of the Class 4A state football playoffs.
Pass Christian, the second seed in Region 8-4A, hosted a playoff game for the first time since 2002.
And the Pirates will certainly reflect on two “what ifs’’ when they think of Friday’s loss.
First, Tionne Frost’s 25-yard TD gallop in the third quarter, which would have tied the game at 14-14, was wiped out by a holding penalty. Later on in the fourth quarter, a holding penalty wiped out a 26-yard Dustin Allison pass that would have put the Pirates at the Eagle 32 with just over 4 minutes left.
“We tied it up, we were moving the ball,’’ Pass Christian coach Casey Wittmann said. “We’ll have to go back and look at the film. I’m sure the referees saw it and there was something there. My kids fought hard. I guess we didn’t play smart tonight. We haven’t been penalized a lot this year but we had a lot tonight.’’
Florence improved to 8-4 while Pass ended its season at 5-6.
Pass Christian jumped on top when Allison scrambled around, and then found Andrew Moffett wide open on an 83-yard touchdown pass. Reis Baughman hit the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 4:48 left in the first quarter.
Florence took advantage of a short punt to march 39 yards for the tying score. Florence drove 39 yards in seven plays, and running back Chasten Lamb scored on a 2-yard run with 11:21 left in the second quarter.
Late in the second quarter, Florence used a gadget play to set up the eventual game-winning drive. Starting the drive at the Pass Christian 45, halfback Demosthenes Jones tossed a 30-yard flea-flicker pass to quarterback Ian Vaughn on the first play of the drive. Three plays later, Vaughn found the end zone from 3 yards out with 1:53 left before halftime.
Pass, on its first drive of the third quarter, marched from its 25 to the Florence 20 before missing on a 37-yard field goal attempt. That was the drive in which Frost’s TD was called back for holding.
Frost rushed for 81 yards on 18 carries. Moffett had 2 catches for 106 yards. Allison completed 5 of 12 passes for 112 yards.
“I did not think 14-7 would be the final,” Florence coach Steve Pruett said. “What a great effort Pass Christian gave forth. Our kids played their hearts out. They left everything on the field.
“That (flea-flicker) pass may have been the difference in the game. It was a special play. I’m proud we got it. We have to get healthy. If we can go a few more weeks and get some people back, we can make a run at this.”