MOSS POINT - Bay High fell just two yards short of a Class 4A state playoff berth in a 20-17 loss to Moss Point on Friday night at Dantzler Stadium.
Moss Point (5-5, 2-3 Region 8-4A) goes into the playoffs next week as the number 4 seed. The Tigers will travel to West Lauderdale.
With 3:12 left to play, Bay High started its final possession on the Moss Point 31-yard-line. A 23-yard run by Bay High quarterback Steven Good pushed the ball down to the Moss Point 8. However, three consecutive runs by Keishaun Pullom left the ball at the Moss Point 2 with 31 seconds left.
Bay High faced a decision: go for the win or attempt a game-tying field goal to send the game into overtime.
Bay coach Jeff Hopgood kept his offense on the field.
"I really wanted to go for the win," Hopgood said. "I wanted to end it right then. I didn't want to go for overtime. "I'm going to feel this one for a long time."
The Moss Point' defense, led by Rayshon Marcel, Jonathan Brown, and Corey Oatis, met Good one yard in the backfield and dropped him to seal the win.
"We needed to make a play and we made a play," said Moss Point coach Willie Brown. "We have been relying on our defense all year. When we needed them to make a play, they made a play."
Moss Point started the game looking like they were going to blow Bay High out early. After Bay kicker Mark Johnson recorded a touchback on the game's opening kickoff, Travis Marion ran 80 yards off the jet sweep on Moss Point's first play to give the homestanding Tigers an early 6-0 lead.
Devin Simpson got the Moss Point offense back on the field quickly, intercepting a pass and bringing it back to the Bay High 24. Five plays later, Marion got his second score of the night and converted the two-point play to give Moss Point a 14-0 lead with 8:24 left.
Moss Point was looking to score a third touchdown in the opening stanza, driving the ball to the Bay 26. However, on fourth down, Dustin Davis and Cade Compretta pulled Moss Point quarterback Keandre Booker down at the 40 to force a punt.
"We score that third touchdown early in the game and we are in control of the game," Brown said. "Who knows what could happen."
Given new life, Bay High started their comeback. Good hit passes of 19 yards to Tyler Daniels and 10 yards to Jaylen Wilson to move Bay High into Moss Point territory. Facing a fourth down, and being held to five yards on his first five carries, Pullom broke through several Moss Point tacklers and raced 41 yards for Bay's first score of the night, cutting the Moss Point lead to 14-7.
"We made some defensive adjustments," Hopgood said. "And we found some things that were working on offense."
Bay High cut the Moss Point lead to four, 14-10, with 5:34 left in the third quarter when Johnson converted a 23-yard field goal.
Moss Point, though, responded with Marion's third touchdown run of the night, a 26-yard sprint with 5:44 left, to seemingly take control of the game.
Daniels, though, would respond immediately for Bay High with a 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, bringing them within 20-17, with 5:37 left and setting up the game's final moments.
Marion and fullback Omni Wells both went over 100 yards for Moss Point. Marion finished with 173 yards and three scores on 15 carries. Wells added 105 yards. Marcel and Oatis had eight stops each to lead the Tigers' defense.
Pullom paced Bay High with 102 yards on 21 carries. Dustin Davis had 13 stops to pace the visiting Tigers defense.