High School Sports

Speed kills: Simmons ends Resurrection's magical run in 1A state tilt

CHRIS TODD/SPECIAL TO THE SUN HERALD 
 Resurrection Catholic's David Alfred prays on the bench late in the fourth quarter on Friday, December 4, 2015, at the MHSAA State Football Championships in Vaught-Hemmingway Stadum on the Ole Miss Campus in Oxford, Miss.
CHRIS TODD/SPECIAL TO THE SUN HERALD Resurrection Catholic's David Alfred prays on the bench late in the fourth quarter on Friday, December 4, 2015, at the MHSAA State Football Championships in Vaught-Hemmingway Stadum on the Ole Miss Campus in Oxford, Miss.

OXFORD -- Hollandale-Simmons' speed was as electric as advertised.

Resurrection fully expected the Blue Devils to be the fastest team its faced all season -- and they were. The Blue Devils broke off four big scoring plays in Friday's Class 1A title game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium to end the Eagles' magical season with a 25-9 decision.

"They were way faster. Way faster than us" said RCS defensive end Renzell Johnson. "Usually with the teams we play there are individuals who are fast, but their whole team was fast. It was more than we ever experienced."

RCS (13-1) opened the game with a 22-yard field goal by Phillip Burrow in the first quarter, but Simmons (12-0) scored 25 unanswered points.

Simmons pulled ahead 6-3 in the second quarter on a 17-yard pass from quarterback Chandler Robinson to running back Marquez Pam. Robinson found the junior in the flat on the right side and Pam out-ran Resurrection's defense to the corner of the end zone.

After forcing a three-and-out on the Eagles' ensuing drive, Simmons hit RCS with a 51-yard touchdown on the first play of the drive to go ahead 13-3. Robinson threw a short pass to the junior receiver on the left side. Jarrett quickly broke a tackle and raced untouched to the end zone.

Simmons added to its lead with a 36-yard touchdown pass from Robinson to Mississippi State commit Nero Nelson in the third quarter and a 44-yard run by Pam in the game's final minutes.

"I was a little worried about them. They have size and athletes all over the field. We knew we had to come in and play our A-game," Simmons coach Tavares Johnson said. "We thought we were faster than they were and we wanted to expose the perimeter. So, guess what we did: We attacked the perimeter on them and just made plays."

Resurrection normally executes a run-heavy offense that wears opponents down, but the Blue Devils forced the Eagles to throw almost twice as much as in any other game this season. Simmons dominated the line of scrimmage, routinely putting RCS in second- and third-and-long situations.

"Their D-line was just quicker off the ball and that's pretty much what set the tone for them," said running back Patrick Watts, who led RCS with 48 yards rushing. "They got us out of sync in a great way. They had a game plan against us and executed it."

RCS quarterback Blake Porter completed 8 of 18 passes for 46 yards with an interception. He was also sacked five times for negative-39 yards. Several times while RCS was attempting to rally, Porter scrambled long enough to find an open receiver, but the Eagles were unable to capitalize.

"When we couldn't complete the short stuff and they were daring us to throw it long, it comes down to can we buy Blake long enough to get the long ball off or not and obviously we didn't," RCS coach Scott Sisson said. "That was the turning point in the game."

Watts kept Resurrection's hopes alive with under four minutes remaining with a 74-yard kick return that set up his 11-yard touchdown run.

"Our team played our hearts out and I wasn't going to go down like that," Watts said. "You always have to have a fighting spirit no matter the score or how much time is left on the clock."

Leading Devils

Robinson completed 14 of 19 passes for 172 yards. Pam had a game-high 92 yards rushing, while Nelson rushed for 49 yards and caught six passes for 70 yards.

Defensive effort

Both teams lost three fumbles and were intercepted once.

Renzell Johnson helped lead the Eagles' defensive effort with three tackles, a blocked punt and a forced fumble.

"He's been a player all year for us," Sisson said. "I can't say enough about the defense. Those guys have been stand up guys all year. We gave up a couple of big plays, but in their defense they were on the field most of the day and the offense just didn't give them enough of a break."

Despite the disappointing finish, the Eagles remained positive. After reviving the program in 2009, RCS has come a long way. In 2014, the Eagles won 10 games. This year, Resurrection won 13 and boasted a smothering defense that collected eight shutouts en route to Friday's title game.

"Either way, whether we won or lost, we still made it to State. That's all that matters," Renzell Johnson said. "We made history."

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