Blue Devils make a statement

Published 7:00 am Saturday, November 7, 2015


The Pearl River Central (10-1, 7-0) football players were engulfed in a sea of their ecstatic fans after they beat Picayune (5-6, 4-3) 41-14, their first victory over the Maroon Tide in 20 years.

Parents, students, alumni and members of the community were crying, laughing, cheering, hugging and embracing the players who accomplished something that meant so much for the PRC community. Head Coach Eric Collins took his second Gatorade bath in as many weeks.

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“It means a whole lot to our community because it’s been 20 years since we beat them. We kept getting close, but we could never get over the hump and tonight we got over the hump,” Collins said.

The Blue Devils set the tone of the game from their first possession of the game as junior quarterback Wyatt Davis calmly marched the offense down the field in a 14-play drive that stretched 50 yards and ate up 5:35 of clock resulting in a 2-yard touchdown run by senior running back Christian Roberts putting PRC on the board first 7-0.

When the Tide got their chance on offense, they answered back.

Junior quarterback Skylar Bowman led the Tide from their own 39-yard line, completing four passes for 43 yards setting up a 1-yard touchdown on a quarterback sneak tying the score 7-7 with 11:53 in the second quarter.

On the next PRC offensive possession, junior running back Michael Tatman broke loose for a 43-yard gallop down to the Picayune 12-yard line to set up a Roberts 12-yard rushing score to push the PRC lead to 14-7.

The Tide were driving the ball at the 8:00 mark in the second quarter when Bowman threw a long pass on third down to sophomore receiver V.J. Holt on what looked like a big gain. Blue Devil senior safety Dalton Howe delivered a crushing hit on Holt to force the incompletion.

At the start of the second half, PRC started capitalizing off of Picayune’s miscues when a Tide player fumbled the ball on the opening kickoff, which was recovered by PRC.

Davis and company went back to work with good field position starting at the Picayune 32-yard line. 

Senior running back Hunter Holifield sprinted into the end zone on a 6-yard touchdown with 8:56 in the third quarter.

The Blue Devil defense front line kept pressure on Bowman. Senior defensive end Drake Whitfield buried Bowman on a 5-yard sack. On the next play, a hurried Bowman was picked off by Howe, who took the ball all the way to Picayune’s 4-yard line. Howe’s interception set up Holifield’s second trip to the end zone on a 4-yard touchdown run to make it 27-7, PRC.

PRC continued to make big plays on defense as senior cornerback Matt Spence had a 2-yard tackle for a loss to force a Tide turnover on downs.

Tatman then put PRC up 34-7 with a 7-yard touchdown run with 2:39 in the third quarter.

Junior running back Josh Littles ran in a 1-yard touchdown with 9:13 in the fourth to make it 34-14.

Roberts ran for his third touchdown of the game when he bulldozed the goal line for a 1-yard score, solidifying the win for PRC.

 “This game means a lot. It was the game I’ve been looking forward to all year long. And I feel like we set the tone the first drive, just driving it down their throat. It’s surreal. 20 years has been too long,” Roberts said.

Roberts, Holifield and Tatman combined for seven touchdowns.

“It means so much. We came in here and knew what we had to do and we did it. We not only did it, but we did it with a little bit extra,” Holifield said.

Both teams will compete in the State 5A Tournament next Friday. PRC will host Natchez (4-6, 3-4) while Picayune will go on the road to play Wayne County (8-3, 6-1).