Tide stomps Bearcats
After a slow start in the first half that could have led some to believe the Picayune Maroon Tide would have a bad night, they regained their momentum in the second half to gain a big lead over the Long Beach Bearcats.
Long Beach put up some big plays, but not enough to beat Picayune, who scored three touchdowns that were for more than 50 yards. One was an 80-yard touchdown.
At first, Picayune started out strong in the first quarter, scoring the first touchdown of the night with 10:20 left to play when fullback Xavier Haralson ran the ball 46 yards for a touchdown. The successful extra point attempt gave the Tide a 7-0 lead.
They would score again in that same quarter with 5:54 left when fullback Blake Merrifield ran the ball 26 yards for a touchdown. Another successful extra point gave the Tide a 14-0 lead.
There were some hitches in the Tide’s game in the first half. A fumble at the 26-yard-line by the Tide put the ball back in Bearcat’s possession. Even though the Bearcats couldn’t capitalize on that turn over, they got another chance when a punt to the Tide resulted in another fumble that put the ball back in Bearcats control.
Five plays later Bearcats quarterback Bruce Mathes completed a pass to Trevor Terry, who ran the ball to the end zone, putting them on the board with 10:36 left in the second quarter. The successful extra point attempt put the score at 14-7.
The Tide would widen the gap a bit with 7:22 left in the second quarter when quarterback Skylar Brown rushed for a one-yard touchdown. The score was 21-7.
On the Bearcats’ next possession, on the first play, Mathes completed another pass to Terry that would result in a more than 90 yard touchdown with 9:03 left to play, putting the score at 21-14 and narrowing the gap temporarily.
Picayune Head Coach Dodd Lee said that first half was the worst his team has played in his 19 years leading the Maroon Tide.
“If we play like that next week they’ll hang 50 on us,” Lee said.
But the Tide picked it up in the second half.
After the Bearcats took first possession of the ball in the third quarter, they lost it after only four plays. The Tide needed only one play to put another touchdown on the board.
With 10:32 left in the third, running back Kardarius Cross ran the ball 60 yards to the end zone. With the successful extra point the score was then 28-14.
The Bearcats would have the ball for five more plays before giving it back to the Tide. The Tide capitalized on that turnover by utilizing six plays and two first downs to bring the ball within striking distance so running back Vyron Brown could run the ball 14 yards for a touchdown. Another successful extra point brought the score to 35-14 with 5:10 left to play in the third.
During the Bearcats’ next possession the Tide’s Haralson was seriously injured, later taken to the hospital by an ambulance.
“It’s a toe injury, but I don’t know what the severity of it is. It didn’t look real good. it’s either broken or a dislocation.” Lee said after the game.
In the beginning of the fourth quarter came the biggest play by the Tide, an 80 yard touchdown pass play from Bowman to Cross with 11:38 left to play in the game. The score would be 42-14 with the successful extra point attempt.
The final scoring play of the game came when Cross intercepted a Bearcats pass to bring the ball to the end zone and bring the score to its final placement at 49-14 with the extra point.
The Bearcats would have one final possession of the ball, but the Tide’s defense held them to a punt, after which the Tide capitalized on that final possession and used a kneel to let the clock run out.
While Cross did not practice this week, he put forth a strong effort, Lee said.
“Kardarius could be a leader of our football team if he would,” Lee said. “This is the time of year where we really need him to pick it up, not only just be a good player but be a good leader.”
Next Friday the Tide will host Pascagoula. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.