Tigers topple Tide

Published 6:58 am Sunday, November 22, 2009


Item Sports Editor

MOSS POINT — Picayune’s road playoff drought continued Friday night.

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The Maroon Tide lost their sixth straight playoff game away from home, as homestanding Moss Point popped Picayune 35-20 in the Class 5A South State semifinals at Dantzler Stadium

Picayune’s season comes to an end at 8-4, and Moss Point, which has now won 10 straight games, will move on to face Wayne County on the road Friday in the South State finals. It was the second loss of the season for Picayune to Moss Point, which spanked the Tide 41-19 three months ago.

It also marked the second time in three seasons that Moss Point has beaten Picayune twice in a season, including ending the year for the Tide in the playoffs with a loss as well in 2007.

“They just made more plays both on offense and defense than we did,” veteran Picayune head coach Dodd Lee, whose team hasn’t won a road playoff game since beating Northwest Rankin in 2003, said. “They got ahead of us early and we had to play from behind. It’s not what we wanted to do.”

Moss Point jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead and then took a 28-0 lead just two plays into the third quarter thanks to some big plays from the Tigers’ offense.

“We knew what was coming,” Moss Point head coach Lewis Sims said. “We knew we had to pick up their blitzes and get the ball to our play-makers in the open field and let them make something happen.”

And boy did they.

Tiger tailback Byron James, who destroyed the Maroon Tide defense all night, sprinted 60 yards for a score on the third play of the second quarter to give Moss Point a lead it would never relinquish.

Then, suddenly, Tiger quarterback Joe Kirkland went quickly to work and completed a 37 yard scoring strike on a broken play to Darius Stallworth and a 14-yard touchdown toss to Reggie Matthews to make it 21-0.

The second scoring pass came after Picayune’s Scottie Merrill fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Moss Point recovered at the Tide 18. Merrill also fumbled the ball away to the Tigers on the first play from scrimmage in the game.

“A lot of things went wrong for us early,” Lee added.

With the Tigers up comfortably to begin the second half, things got better as Kirkland tossed his third score of the game on the third play of the third period as he hit DeAdrian terry on a 40-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-0.

The Maroon Tide fought back, though, as Chris Burton and Jacob Kennedy each scored on short runs later in the quarter.

Then, with nine minutes to play Picayune’s Chase Tretbar simply took the ball away from Kirkland and set the Tide up in scoring position.

A few plays later, Merrill hit Burton on a halfback pass from 29 yards out for a score and the score was 28-20 with 6:59 to play.

But Kirkland made yet another big play on the ensuing drive, completing a 14 yard pass on third and 12 and two plays later James sealed the win with a 25 yard scoring scamper. James finished the game with 190 yards rushing and the two scores.

“Picayune whipped us in the second half,” Sims added. “we knew we had to be physical, because Picayune is always one of the most physical teams you’ll ever face. We were fortunate to beat them twice in a season.”

Troy Egana also recovered a fumble for the Maroon Tide in the game.

“Their speed hurt us, and they’ve got some good players,” Lee concluded. “But I thought our kids showed what they were made of in the second half. We showed a lot of heart being down 28-0 and coming back to make a game out of it. I am proud of them.”