Maroon Tide beats McComb

Published 6:24 am Sunday, November 12, 2006

After never trailing during the regular season, Picayune is suddenly making a habit out of come from behind wins in the playoffs.

The Maroon Tide scored 21 unanswered points in the second half Friday, and in the process beat visiting McComb 33-24 in the second round of the Class 4A South State playoffs.

Unbeaten Picayune, now 11-0 and ranked fourth in the Super 10, will play Wayne County in the South State Semifinals on the road next.

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“We need to start a little better,” veteran Tide head coach Dodd Lee said. Picayune trailed West Jones 7-0 last week in its postseason opener before rallying for a 14-7 win.

“But I can’t say enough about the pride these kids have,” Lee added. “They knew they were better than they played in the first half, and they were determined to come out and show that.”

McComb, which ends the season at 8-3, jumped out to a 16-6 halftime lead thanks to a 55-yard scoring run by Demorious Stewart and a 14-yard scoring pass from Alonzo Harris to Dustin Powell.

Picayune, though, whose only first half score was on a 10-yard run by Dale Meitzler, stormed out of the locker room after intermission and quickly began to take control.

“We came out kind of slow, like last week,” Picayune’s versatile Drew Cole said. Cole, who splits his time between cornerback and running back, scored a pair of rushing touchdowns and also came up with a key play on special teams that turned the tide for Picayune.

“We haven’t really played from behind all year, so we had to show some character,” Cole added. “At halftime we talked about someone coming up an making a big play, and that just happened to be me.”

After Picayune cut the deficit to 16-13 on a 7-yard scoring run by Albert Richard, Cole tackled the McComb punter on a botched punt attempt at the Tide 15 late in the third period.

His 2-yard scoring run on the first play of the final period gave Picayune a lead it would never relinquish.

“We had a lot of people make a lot of plays tonight, and he was one of them,” Lee said of Cole. “He stepped up when we needed it.”

Cole, who is the younger brother of LSU tight end Mit Cole, added a 1-yard scoring plunge with 5:24 to play.

The Maroon Tide defense allowed almost 270 yards of total offense in the first half, but held McComb to just one first down throughout the first 20 minutes of the second half while making its rally.

“I thought our defense played really well in the second half,” Lee said.

` The Tigers weren’t dead yet, though, as Harris marched them down the field after Cole’s second score and hit Powell on 4-yard scoring strike.

A successful two point attempt pulled McComb to 27-24, and the Tigers got the ball back with a minute to play as Harris desperately tried to move them into scoring position.

Richard, though, in for the first time this season on defense, picked Harris off on the last play of the game and returned the interception 83 yards for a score to seal the win.

“This was one of our goals, to reach the third round,” Lee, whose team fell in the second round to Wayne County last year, said. “We have to keep getting better.”

Richard, who now has 28 touchdowns on the season, paced Picayune with 157 yards rushing. He now has over 1,700 yards on the ground this season.

Stewart, who picked up 101 yards on the night, finishes the season with just under 1,600 yards rushing.