Maroon Tide lose first game to Stone in 2 OT, 38-31

Published 7:00 am Saturday, October 15, 2016

Josh Littles found his 18th rushing touchdown of the year before leaving the game with a knee injury. Photo by Taylor Welsh

Josh Littles found his 18th rushing touchdown of the year before leaving the game with a knee injury.
Photo by Taylor Welsh

Going into halftime, the Picayune Maroon Tide went into the locker room energized with a 14-3 lead over the Stone Tomcats. However, that changed when the Maroon Tide came back out without their star running back Josh Littles—who has an outstanding 17 rushing touchdowns on the season.
“He said his knee was bothering him, but there was no swelling,” Picayune’s Head Football Coach Dodd Lee said. “I don’t think it is anything serious.”
Without Littles in the second half, the ambiance of Lee/Triplett Stadium changed, and Stone High School came back and pushed the undefeated Maroon Tide back against the wall, sending their homecoming game into overtime.
To begin the game, penalty flags were dropped left and right. Picayune took advantage of a jumpy Tomcat defense and mixed up their snap counts to fool the defense and get two offside penalties in the first two snaps of the game. After a seven play drive landed Picayune on their opponent’s 13-yard line, they fumbled the ball, which a waiting Stone defender recovered.
Last week, Lee said they needed to improve defensively and during their first time on the field, they managed to force the Tomcats to punt after just four plays. Then the Maroon Tide drove 71 yards and Littles found the end zone after a 5-yard run, putting the Maroon Tide up 7-0 with 3:21 to go in the first quarter. After a 50-yard field goal by Tomcats’ Mason Hunt, the Maroon Tide capitalized on a crucial fourth down interception by Brian Taylor as Michael Ferrier crossed the goal line after covering five yards for Picayune, making the score 14-3.
After a scoreless third quarter without Littles, the Maroon Tide found momentum when Louis Graham nabbed the ball out of the air after a tipped pass, making for an interception 32 yards away from the end zone. Six snaps and a couple of penalties against Picayune later, Tyler Penton rushed into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown. With 10:44 to go in the fourth quarter and a 21-3 lead, things started to turn for the worst for Picayune.
The subsequent Stone play, involving running back Terrion Avery taking the ball 73 yards to the house, lit up the away sideline and stunned the homecoming crowd.
Then the Stone defense held Picayune to a 3-and-out, and on the punt, Tomcats’ Enrique Whaley brought the entire stadium to silence as he returned the punt almost 50 yards for another Tomcats touchdown, closing the gap against the undefeated Tide to 21-17 with 8:54 to go in the game.
On the ensuing drive, Picayune drove 53 yards to the opponent’s 10-yard line, in which Maroon Tide kicker Isidro Loya threaded the pigskin through the up-rights, giving the home team a 7-point cushion with 6:08 to go.
Just when you think it couldn’t get more exciting, Stone’s Kentrell McCray returned Picayune’s kickoff across the midfield and up to the 15-yard line. After that, it took Stone only two attempts to find the end zone as wide receiver Nick Brown found the end zone for the seventh time this season after a 19-yard catch. This evened the score 24-24 with 5:06 to go in the game.
Picayune built an impressive drive involving a critical 46-yard scamper by David “Playmaker” Baker with 2:45 to go. However, running back Shaun Anderson fumbled the ball at the 5-yard line, which gave Stone one more opportunity to win.

After a Hail Mary attempt by the Tomcats, Anderson redeemed himself and caught a game-saving interception, which led to overtime.
After the first round of overtime—with scoring plays from Picayune’s Baker and Stone’s Avery—Nick Brown jumped over a defender and made a 5-yard catch in the back of the end zone, giving Stone a 38-31 lead. With the game on the line, Picayune’s Penton fumbled the ball on 2-and-12, ending the game.
“This is just another win for us,” Stone Head Football Coach John Feaster said, with tears of joy streaming down his face. “We need to build on this win and come out even better next week.”
Feaster said he was emotional after the victory because he coached at Picayune Memorial High School just last year, making the win that much more rewarding.

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