PRC wins again

Published 11:20 pm Saturday, October 18, 2008

Jake Smith scored twice and a tough defense forced four second-half turnovers Friday evening, as the Pearl River Central Blue Devils kept their playoff hopes alive with a 14-7 victory over Long Beach on “senior night” in Carriere.

“Two weeks ago, we were 0-6, and faced one of the worst sports-related situations in this school’s history,” head coach Jeremy Weir said afterwards. “The kids have stuck together and we have gotten better. We were on a fence and we went the right way. I can’t be more proud of them.”

With the win, the Devils (2-6) now have a shot at the playoff’s provided they beat St. Stanislaus in the season finale next week and get a little help.

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Even if the Devils beat Stanislaus, they would still need Bay St. Louis to lose one of its final two games.

The Devils could still make the playoffs if they lose next week, but it would need  Bay High to lost both of its final two games and another Poplarville loss.

Friday’s contest began with the Devils going three-and-out on their first three possessions.

Long Beach took advantage of the Devils’ inept early offense, taking the lead when quarterback Anthony D’Angelo scored on the first play of the second quarter on a one-yard sneak.

PRC found its groove mid-way through the period with a seven-play 55-yard drive to tie the score.

Phillip Geraci started things off with a 15-yard run and, a few plays, later Smith took a counter-play 15-yard to the endzone.

Smith hurdled two tacklers before landing safely for the score.

Brady Jordan added the point-after and with 5:00 to play in the half, the game was tied 7-7.

Early in the third the Devils got a golden chance when Jordan intercepted a pass at the 28 and returned the ball 10 yards to the 18.

The interception was the first of a combined seven turnovers by both teams in a sloppy second half.

Pearl River promptly fumbled the ball back to Long Beach four plays later.

On the Devils’ next drive, the offense turned in the play of the game.

On a third-and-ten at the Bearcat 46, quarterback Tyler Lee gunned a pass over the middle to Smith, who collected the pass at the 30 and outran the defense to the endzone.

Jordan’s extra point made the score 14-7.

“I was in the slot on the play and Tyler hit me at the right time and I was able to get behind the defense,” Smith said.

“That was a big play for us,” Weir said. “The offensive line gave Tyler a lot of time.”

Playing with the lead, the Devils defense tightened the screws on D’Angelo and the Bearcat offense.

After a fumble by Lance Powers, the Devils forced a fumble from D’Angelo on a fourth-and-one play at the 20.

On the next Bearcat drive, Jordan intercepted his second pass of the game, but the momentum was quelled by another fumble by Powers three plays later.

The Bearcats took over at the 44 with just under five minutes to play and they moved the ball into the redzone when D’Angelo hit Cody Darty on a 26-yard pass on fourth-and-eight.

Three plays later, D’Angelo lofted a pass to the endzone, but Josh Taggart intercepted the ball at the three.

With just 1:50 to play, the Devils needed a first down to ice the game. They got it when Ben Lee picked up 15 yards on third down.

The Devils ran out the clock and the final score was 14-7.

“Our defensive line controlled the game,” Weir said. “They played really well.”

The defensive line consisting of Alan Smith, Zack Lancaster, Colby Dillard, and Cole Stuart, limited the Bear Cats to under 50 yards rushing in the game.

Jordan said the defense was in the right position all night.

“The front four did really good,” Jordan said. “We have been working on this game all week. The coaches did a good job in preparing us.”

For the Devil seniors, Friday was probably the last chance to play in front of the home crowd. They will go out on top.

“We have all been playing since second grade,” senior linebacker Brandon Farmer said. “It feels good to go out a winner at home.”