Picayune holds off PRC, advanced to second round of 5A playoffs
Picayune’s winning streak against Pearl River Central continued Friday night as the Maroon Tide defeated the Blue Devils 38-26 to advance to the second round of the 5A playoffs.
“These kids know how to win, and that says a lot about our team,” said Picayune Head Coach Dodd Lee.
Pearl River Central’s season ended after their attempt at a comeback fell short in the fourth quarter. Pearl River Head Coach Eric Collins gave credit to Picayune for the victory and expressed his disappointment in the game.
“Close for us doesn’t mean anything anymore,” said Collins, “I give credit to Picayune for finding a way to get it done again, but if we want to be a state championship contender, then we have to find a way to play better.”
The Picayune offense started the game well, scoring in just three plays. Running back Gerrell Keaton broke a long run inside the 5-yard line, setting up quarterback Skylar Bowman for a 1-yard rushing touchdown to give the Tide a 7-0 lead after only one minute and 32 seconds after kickoff.
After forcing a PRC three-and-out, Picayune turned the ball over on downs. The ensuing Blue Devil drive was highlighted by a long pass to cornerback Alex Travis, who saw significant time at wide receiver tonight. The completion set PRC up in the redzone, and quarterback Terek Whitehead would find the end zone on a three-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter. The extra point was blocked, making the score 7-6 with 11:53 left to play in the half.
Tide running back Vyron Brown answered immediately with an explosive play on special teams, returning the ensuing kickoff more than 75 yards for a touchdown. Picayune led 14-6 with 11:39 to play in the second quarter.
PRC would punt the ball to the Picayune 10-yard line on their next drive and later forced a Picayune punt. The punt was shanked and took a bad bounce, giving the Blue Devils a first down on the Picayune 15-yard line. A few plays later, PRC running back Christian Roberts scored on a three-yard rushing touchdown, making the score 14-13 with 3:21 left to play in the first half.
The Tide changed the game with their final drive before the half. After gaining possession of the ball from a PRC punt with less than a minute remaining in the second quarter, Bowman found wide receiver Dalton Hedgepeth for a 30-yard completion. That play set up a 3-yard touchdown pass to Brown with only eight seconds left in the half, giving the Tide a 21-13 lead at halftime.
PRC fumbled on their opening drive, which Picayune recovered at the Blue Devil 25-yard line. Jackson Samples hit a 25-yard field goal a few plays later to give the Tide a 24-13 lead with 7:09 left to play in the third quarter.
PRC answered back with a long drive as Whitehead found Travis for two first downs. The drive set up Whitehead for a 1-yard rushing touchdown four seconds into the fourth quarter. The two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the score 24-19, Picayune, with 11:56 left to play.
Picayune faced a fourth down and five on their next drive and opted to go for it. The risky move paid off when Bowman found Brown for a 30-yard touchdown pass – their second connection of the game – with 9:22 remaining in the game. The Tide led 31-19.
PRC wouldn’t quit, finishing a long drive wih a 5-yard touchdown run by Roberts with 5:59 remaining in the fourth quarter to cut the Tide’s lead to 31-26.
Picayune iced the game on their next possession as Bowman ran for 38 yards to the PRC 6-yard line. Although the Blue Devils stopped Picayune on fourth down, a facemask penalty gave Picayune another chance, which Bowman capitalized on with a 1-yard rushing touchdown to put the game out of the Devils’ reach, 38-26 with 1:12 left to play.
PRC turned the ball over on downs on their next possession and Picayune kneeled as the clock winded down on the Blue Devils’ season.
“I was really proud of our seniors,” said Collins, “I’ve never been around a more cohesive group than this football team and I’m proud of every last one of them.”
Picayune will host Wayne County in the second round next weekend.
“I feel like they’re the best team in the state right now,” said Lee, “We’re a little beat up, but we’ve got to circle the wagons and see what we can do with them.”