Picayune falls to East Central
The longest active winning streak in the state ended Friday night as the Picayune Maroon Tide lost to East Central 31-28 and fell to 8-1 on the season.
Back-to-back fumbles on kickoff returns in the final quarter were too much to overcome for the Tide. East Central scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth as a result of the turnovers and Picayune could not regain the lead.
“You can’t turn the ball over two times in a row on kickoffs,” said Head Coach Dodd Lee, “People have to understand that.”
The game started well for the Tide. It took running back Gerrell Keaton only three rushing attempts to get Picayune a first and goal situation after starting the drive on their own 40-yard-line. Two plays later, Full back Earl Nastasi scored a 5-yard rushing touchdown to make the score 7-0 with 10:16 left to play in the first quarter.
East Central running back Nate Cohen got the bulk of the rushing attempts for the Hornets throughout the game. East Central moved the ball on their first drive, but turned the ball over on downs near the Picayune 20-yard line after Cohen was stopped short of a first down.
Picayune marched the ball to the East Central 20-yard line before throwing an incomplete pass on fourth and six and turning the ball over on downs. Cohen had a couple of big runs to move the Hornets into good field position, and a long pass from quarterback Jarik Biggs set line backer Dylan Davis up for a 1-yard touchdown run to tie the game with 7:36 remaining in the second quarter.
On Picayune’s second offensive play of their next drive, full back Xavier Haralson broke free for a 54-yard touchdown run to make the score 14-7 with 6:29 left to play in the second quarter.
On his eighth rushing attempt of the ensuing East Central drive, Cohen tied the game with a 4-yard rushing touchdown. It was 14-14 with 1:43 left in the first half. The score would hold until halftime.
East Central was forced to punt on their first possession in the second half, and Picayune responded with a scoring drive. Keaton gained more than 50 yards on four carries to set quarterback Skylar Bowman up for the 1-yard touchdown with 7:54 left to play in the third quarter.
The Hornets answered with a 73-yard drive that took seven minutes and 32 seconds off the clock and ended with another 1-yard touchdown from Davis. With 0:22 left to play in the third quarter, the score was 21-21.
Picayune fumbled on the ensuing kickoff and East Central receiver Jacob Vick recovered, giving the Hornets a first down at the Tide 37-yard line. The Tide defense held their ground, but allowed a 40-yard field goal from kicker Nick Lewelling. East Central had their first lead, 24-21, with 9:10 left to play.
Disaster struck for Picayune as East Central forced another fumble on a kickoff, this one recovered by defensive back Hunter Hyatt at the Picayune 36-yard line.
A 28-yard run from Biggs gave the Hornets a first and goal, and Cohen scored three plays later with a two-yard rushing touchdown, giving East Central a 31-21 lead with 7:10 to play.
The Tide would battle back, scoring just a minute and a half later on a seven-yard touchdown run from Keaton to put the score within a field goal tie, 31-28.
The touchdown would be the final score of the game, however, as East Central converted enough first downs to run the clock down to 20 seconds before turning the ball over on downs.
Picayune’s last gasp fell short, and the Tide lost their first game at home since September of 2011.
“We’ve got to go back and try to get better next week,” Lee said.
Picayune travels to Stone County next week in their final regular season game of the year.
DEFENSE: Maroon Tide wide receiver Tyler Smith has a pass blocked by Hurricane’s wide receiver Gary Perkins during Friday’s game.... read more