Atavian Ray slipped through the grasp of would-be-tacklers for a 15-yard touchdown in overtime to give Harrison Central a 20-14 win over Hancock High in Lyman on Friday.
But before the Red Rebels offense got on the field, the defense stopped Hancock at the 1 on fourth down to keep the visitors off the scoreboard in overtime.
Then, on the first play in overtime for the Red Rebels offense, they were flagged for a procedure call, which backed them up five yards, giving them a first and goal from the 15 yard line. On the very next play, Ray’s run gave the Red Rebels (4-5, 2-3) their second district win and hopes for a chance at a playoff spot with two weeks left in the season.
“Tav had fresh legs, and coach put him in,” Red Rebels coach Casey Cain said. “We got him to the corner and he just made three or four guys miss.
“Great fourth down stop,” said Cain of the defense denying Hancock in overtime. “Our defensive staff and the defensive guys just willed their way to do it. They just fought, gave it everything they’ve got on fourth down and got the stop for us.”
The Red Rebels led 14-0 at halftime and they held Hancock scoreless until the last minute of the third quarter when Hancock quarterback Sema’J Robertson broke outside to the Hawks sideline and outran Red Rebels defenders for a 37-yard score.
On their ensuing possession, Red Rebels freshman quarterback Christian Turner sailed a pass over the Hawks’ secondary and into the waiting fingertips of Mikuan Sanders for a 45-yard play, but the Hancock defender stripped the ball and recovered for the Hawks.
The Hawks’ offense responded with an 11-play drive that covered 82 yards and included three pass completions: 36, 7 and 20 yards. The 20-yard completion moved the ball 10 yards from the end zone. Two plays later, Sebastian Fausett carried it in for the score from 6 yards out. Austin Hyde’s second PAT kick of the night tied the game at 14-14.
The Hawks were driving with just over 4 minutes remaining in the game, but the drive stalled at the Harrison Central 30 yard line with nine ticks left in regulation.
“Our kids battled,” Hancock coach Neil Lollar said. “They were thrown an eight ball with the weather, and I think it affected both teams. That was the reason for the sluggish start. We were able to come out of half and get some things rolling. I’m proud of the way our kids competed for four quarters. I think that’s going to carry over.”
The Red Rebels’ running game dictated play in the first half as Jaidon McClain put up 83 of his game high 116 yards during the first 24 minutes. Ray added 68 yards and two touchdowns. Mikuan Sanders scored on a 26-yard carry.
Hancock’s Freshman quarterback Christian Turner completed 6 of 11 passes for 89 yards. He also added a run of 24 yards.
Robertson completed four of 14 passes for 66 yards. He also rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown. Fausett rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Moss Point 31, Pass Christian 28: With 3.7 seconds on the clock, the ball at the Pass Christian 18 and the Region 8-4A title on the line, Moss Point coach Eugene Harmon had a decision to make with the game knotted at 28-28.
His offensive coordinator, Ray Pickering, suggested that the Tigers try something that they had not attempted once all season — a field goal.
“We’ve got nothing to lose,” Pickering told Harmon, who had harped on the importance of the field goal unit all season.
“I told the players that it may come down to the championship game and we have to make one,” Harmon said. “It’s odd that the season came down to a field goal in the last game.”
Harmon turned to junior running back Savion Burkes, who handles kickoff duties, to inform him that he would be trying a 35-yard field goal.
“He looked at me and said, ‘I got you, coach,’” Harmon said.
Burkes did indeed reward his coach’s confidence, booting the ball through the heart of the uprights to hand Moss Point the Region 8-4A championship with a 31-28 win, setting off a celebration at Dantzler Stadium.
“It’s the first time in 10 years that we’ve won a region championship,” Harmon said.
Considering Moss Point (3-6, 1-3) started the season with a record of 0-5, the region championship is all the more rewarding for the Tigers.
“I told the guys that we’ve got the preseason, the regular season and the postseason,” Harmon said. “The preseason gets us ready. The regular season gets us to the playoffs.”
With Moss Point featuring a bye on the final week of the regular season, the Tigers can sit and wait to see who they will host in the first round of the playoffs.
Moss Point junior quarterback Ruben Lee threw four touchdowns, three to Larry Simmons and another to Chanton Millender.
Pass Christian drops to 6-3 and 2-1 before closing out the regular season with a home game against St. Stanislaus next week.
Pascagoula 35, East Central 25: The Panthers moved a crucial step toward locking up a playoff bid in Region 4-5A.
Pascagoula (5-4, 3-2) outscored East Central 21-7 in the second half to close out a complete performance in Hurley.
“For the first time all year, we played two halves of football — offensively, defensively and on special teams,” Pascagoula coach Lewis Sims said. “We made mistakes, but they were mistakes to learn from. We didn’t dwell on them.”
Pascagoula beat East Central (5-4, 2-3) at what they do best — running the ball. The Panthers had 332 yards on 47 carries. The Hornets had 49 rushes for 256 yards.
Freshman quarterback Keilon Parnell set the tone for the Panthers throughout, running 22 times for 172 yards and three touchdowns.
Senior Montello Kirkland also had 10 carries for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Kayvon Barnes added 67 yards on 13 rushes.
Senior Teshun McGee led East Central with 14 carries for 95 yards.
Lumberton 28, Resurrection 3: Lumberton (8-2, 7-0) locked up the Region 4-1A championship with a win at Gautier.
Resurrection’s only points came on a 30-yard field goal by Adam Holland, giving the Eagles a 3-0 lead after one quarter. The Panthers responded with 28 unanswered points.
Resurrection drops to 7-2 and 5-2 before hosting Salem on Nov. 1 to close out the regular season.