Merrill runs Tide past D’Iberville

Published 2:04 am Sunday, November 15, 2009


Item Sports Editor

There may not be many prep football teams in any state that can be without the services of a running back that averages 175 yards per game yards in the regular season and replace him with one that runs for almost 100 yards more in the opening game of the playoffs.

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But that’s exactly what Picayune did Friday.

Maroon Tide sophomore running back Scottie Merrill, replacing junior standout Jamal Hall, ran the ball 44 times for 272 yards and scored four touchdowns as the homestanding Maroon Tide knocked off a scrappy D’Iberville squad 28-14 in the opening round of the Class 5A South State playoffs.

With the win, Picayune gets a rematch with Moss Point on Friday as the Maroon Tide travels to tangle with a Tiger team that hammered them 41-19 to open the season.

The Maroon Tide is now 8-3, while D’Iberville finishes the season at 5-7. Moss Point is 10-2 after beating Brookhaven on Friday.

“With Jamal out, the team needed me to step up, and that’s what I tried to do,” Merrill said. “I wasn’t replacing him, I just wanted to make sure I did my job while he was hurt and the offensive line helped me accomplish that.”

Hall injured his ankle in the second half of last week’s win over Wayne County and was held out of the game.

“That was a very good game for Scottie,” Picayune head coach Dodd Lee, who is now 9-1 in opening round home playoff games in his 14 years at the helm of the Maroon Tide, said. “We decided in the second half that we would pick out two plays and run them until they stopped us.”

And the Warriors never did.

With the scored tied at 14-14 at halftime, Merrill, who scored twice in the first half, added the game winning scores in the second half to seal the win and push Picayune into the second round of the state playoffs for the fifth straight season.

Merrill scored on runs of 6 and 3 yards in the first half, but a pair of Picayune turnovers in their own territory allowed D’Iberville to score twice as well and hang around.

After intermission, however, Merrill came back with scores from 5 yards and 1 yard out in the third period to put the Tide ahead for good.

The Maroon Tide defense, which allowed just one score in the first half while the Warriors also scored on a botched special teams play, then smothered DHS in the second half and shut the Warriors out.

“It’s all about team work, and that’s what we are about,” senior linebacker Jarrod Jones, who recorded four sacks in the game, said. “We took advantage of some of the things we saw, like them not picking up on the blitz. We didn’t want this to be our last game.”

Picayune’s other linebacker Troy Egana blocked a punt early in the game that Ricky Hawkins returned to the DHS four to set up a score in the first half.

Also, Tide safety Tyrone Davis had an interception late in the game to seal the win.

Lee said that Hall could have played if needed.

“Now hopefully we can have both ready to go next week,” Lee concluded. “We’ll need them.”