Pearl River Central Blue Devils defeated by Bay St. Louis Tigers

Published 2:48 am Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sometimes a ball game turns on a few pivotal plays in a certain time of the game, and that’s what happened to the Pearl River Central Blue Devils here on Friday night.

The Bay St. Louis Tigers are 2-2 and the Pearl River Central Blue Devils are 1-3 after the Tigers beat the Blue Devils 27-13 in front of a Homecoming crowd at Hendrix Memorial Stadium.

Tiger quarterback Braxton Lafontaine and receiver Brennan Dunklin were major factors for the Tigers. Dunklin  piled up 200 yards running and catching against the Devils.

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Lafontaine hit four shots for 145 yards, two for TDs to Dunklin. Dunklin had two receptions going for touchdowns of 68 and 52 and one 9-yard TD dash. That’s three of the Bay’s four TDs that Dunklin was involved in.

The game turned on a series of plays in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter.

The Blue Devils were behind 7 points, a touchdown and extra point, 20-13. Blue Devil fans expected a long drive and TD to tie the game when the Blue Devils started out on their own 20 in the beginning of the fourth quarter.

But two major penalties killed a drive that would have seen the Blue Devils perched on the Tigers’ 15, only 15 yards away from the score and kick that would have tied the game.

Devil QB Dylan Spiers hit tight end Justin Boudreaux, a 6-4, 228-pound sophomore, on a 36-yard down-and-out pass play that moved the ball to the Tiger 15. But the Devils were hit with a holding penalty. The penalty wiped out the play and the Devils after the penalty was assessed were sitting back on their own 36.

So, instead of first-and-15 to paydirt and a tie, it was first-and-10 on their own 36.

Two plays later on a sack and penalty the Devils were forced back to their 9-yard line where Tiger Phalen Booker ripped the ball out of the hands of Devil Jo Jo Yates.

From the nine Dunklin ran for a TD with 6:42 left in the game. Paul Johnson’s kick was good, and it was 27-13 Tigers, checkmate.

Said Blue Devil first-year head coach Eric Collins in his post-game comments: “Quite frankly, we have a long way to go in our rebuilding process. But I would like to say one thing and that is this group of kids don’t ever give up. We got close to tying this thing up. We were hit hard with injuries tonight and that didn’t help, either. We will be a winner, but it will take time. We have a problem with depth.”

Tiger head coach Jeff Hopgood, who is in his seventh year at the Bay, second year as head coach, had nothing but praise for the Blue Devils: “I told our guys that no matter what happened tonight that you would be bruised and sore on Saturday, because that is what kind of team PRC is this year after I looked at them. They have a tough bunch of guys.

“I told them that he’s (Dunklin) got to have a great game tonight if we were to beat this team. They have excellent execution and I knew it would be hard to beat them because they would be fired up at Homecoming. Watching them on film, they are a tough, well-coached football team.”

The Devils leading rusher, Trey Wynn, went out early with a twisted ankle, and Desmond Michel had to take up the slake and did.

He’s a six-foot sophomore tailback. He ran 19 times for 80 yards, one dash for 10 yards and a touchdown.

And while Lafontaine’s 145 yards and two TDs was the difference for the Tigers, Spiers hit three shots for 89 yards, and on two different occasions Devil receivers bobbled two long shots from Spiers that would have went for touchdowns if caught. It was that kind of a night for the Devils. Close but no quite enough.

The Tigers scored first on a 7-play, 91-yard drive that was capped with a Lafontaine chip-shot to Dunklin in the flat, and Dunklin then ran 68 yards for the touchdown with 2:53 left in first-period action. Johnson’s kick was good: 7-0, Tigers.

The Tigers’ second score came on a two-play, 51-yard drive, that featured a 48-yard jaunt by RB Justus Lett to the one, capped by a one-yard sneak by Lafontaine. Johnson missed on the extra point kick. It was 13-0, Tigers, with 9:35 left in the second period.

The Blue Devils’ first score came with 41 seconds left in the first half on an 11-play, 85-yard drive, highlighted by Spiers aerials for 12 and 22 yards. Kubicki sneaked over from the one; Austen Creel’s kick for the PAT missed. It was 13-6, Bay High, at the half-time break.

In third quarter action, four minutes into play, the Tigers scored on a 52-yard pass from Lafontaine to Dunklin, making it 20-6, Tigers, after Johnson’s kick.

With one minute left in the third stanza, the Devils came back and Michel ran 10 yards for a TD; Creel’s kick was good, and the Devils pulled to within a TD and extra point of the Tigers.

The Blue Devils have an open date on Friday and sorely need it to mend. They host Forest Hill of Jackson on Sept. 24.