PRC beats Laurel
By James Pugh
Laurel head coach Todd Breland realized that his defense would have to get off the field in Friday’s contest with Pearl River Central to give the Tornado’s a chance to win. However, that would not happen in a 28-21 loss to the Blue Devils.
“We knew coming in that we were going to have to get them in third and long situations and we couldn’t do that,” Breland said of his team that falls to 2-1 in Region 3-5A and 5-2 overall. Pearl River Central improves to 2-1 in region play and 3-3 overall. “We couldn’t let them control the ball and stay on the field but they executed their offense the way they wanted to,” lamented Breland.
The Laurel defense only put the Blue Devils in long yardage situations a few times culminating in two forced turnovers but was unable to capitalize on the errors. Pearl River head coach Eric Collins was proud of his team’s play.
“We had a total team effort tonight. Our line opened holes and we were able to move the ball and control the line of scrimmage.”
The Blue Devils took the opening kickoff and marched 52 yards in 10 plays for the game’s first score. Michael Tatman accounted for 30 of those yards on four carries. Quarterback Terek Whitehead capped the drive off, plunging in from three yards out on fourth and goal. The point after was good for a 7-0 lead with 7:34 to go in the first.
Laurel’s offensive woes started early with turnovers on the first two possessions. The Tornadoes finished the night with five total giveaways. Junior quarterback Keon Howard heaved the ball down field connecting with Omar Bayless around the PRC 20 yard line in what appeared to be an easy touchdown, as Bayles was several steps ahead of the defender. But Bayless lost his balance and eventually the football around the 10 yard line. The ball rolled into the end zone and was recovered by the Devils for a touchback.
PRC would then drive 70 yards in 10 plays and have a first and goal at the Laurel 10. However, the Tornado defense would stop leading rusher Hunter Holifield on fourth and goal at the five-yard line with 2:24 remaining in the first quarter. Holifield finished with night with 145 yards on 23 carries.
The Tornados appeared once again to be on their way to tying the score after a 35-yard run by Howard gave Laurel a first down at the Blue Devil 15. However, on the next play, Howard’s pass was picked off by Dalton Howe and returned 90 yards for a touchdown. The ensuing PAT by Cade Lee was good and PRC held a 14-0 lead going into the second quarter.
Laurel answered with a 65-yard scoring drive capped by Malik Terrell’s 3-yard run to put the score at 14-7, but the Blue Devils came right back after Whitehead connected with Tatman on an 8-yard scoring pass. With 30 seconds left in the half, PRC was setting up for a 38-yard field goal attempt, but the kick was shanked to the right and returned 84 yards by Ricky Holden for a Tornado touchdown, cutting the lead 21-14 at the half.
The Blue Devils would complete their scoring with Whitehead sneaking in from a yard out to take a 28-14 lead with 9:31 left to play. Laurel would score the game’s final points with only 16 seconds remaining on a 20-yard pass from Howard to Octavious Cooley. Howard had 284 yards passing on the night.
“It was disappointing,” Breland said of the loss. “We made too many mistakes against a good team, but it wasn’t due to a lack of effort.”
The Tornadoes will travel to Natchez next week, while Pearl River entertains Wayne County 3-0 and 6-1 overall.