Tide continues streak, beats Tigers 56-48

Published 7:00 am Saturday, October 8, 2016

The highly anticipated clash between two of the top five teams in Mississippi did not disappoint as Picayune squeezed out a 56-48 victory against the Hattiesburg Tigers Friday night.
To begin the game, Hattiesburg’s first two possessions turned into unforced fumbles, which were recovered by the Maroon Tide defense, giving them an early 14-0 lead. Picayune’s first drive of the night ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Maroon Tide’s star running back Josh Littles with 8:37 left in the first quarter. After Hattiesburg’s unforced fumble, the Maroon Tide spent little time finding the paydirt as Littles dashed into the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown just 16 seconds after his first score.
In the second quarter, Maroon Tide’s V.J. Holt made arguably the most important play on the game as he forced Tiger’s running back Fabian Franklin to fumble the ball at the goal line, which was recovered by Picayune in their own end zone for a touchback and possession of the ball.
“When I hit him, I thought he scored,” Holt said. “But when I turned around I saw the ball on the ground so I immediately tried to recover it and luckily one of my teammates was able to get on top of it.”
After the turnover, Picayune marched 80 yards down the field for another Maroon Tide touchdown that was punched in by David Baker for a 5-yard run, bringing the score to 28-7 with 3:20 to go in the first half.
Littles had an incredible first half, as he was responsible for three of the four touchdowns scored, tallying his season total to 17 rushing touchdowns so far this season.
Although Picayune got an early lead on Hattiesburg, the Tigers never backed down. Franklin broke free from a couple of Maroon Tide defenders and ran 22 yards to the end zone to bring the score to 28-14 with 1:33 left in the half.
Hattiesburg carried over the momentum from the first half into the start of the third quarter, scoring on their first drive on a 14-yard catch by Jordan Murphy, bringing the score to 28-21 with 10:03 left in the quarter.
However, it seemed that whenever the Tigers got within striking distance, Picayune drove down the field to give themselves a two-score lead.
After receiving the kick off at their own 40 yard line, Picayune pounded a 12-play drive, which set up Brian Taylor with a 5-yard plunge into the end zone with 3:40 to go in the third quarter, giving the Maroon Tide a 35-21 lead.
With 26.8 seconds left in the quarter, Tigers’ wide receiver Murphy caught a 27-yard pass in the corner of the end zone for another touchdown, closing the gap to 35-28.
On Picayune’s subsequent drive, Maroon Tide’s Baker converted a third down into a scoring opportunity with a 24 yard run, which set himself to bulldoze his way into the end zone just five yards out. The score was 42-28 with 7:40 to go in the game.
The resilient Hattiesburg team scored a 59-yard passing touchdown caught by Murphy for his third touchdown of the night, making the score 42-34 after missing a 2-point conversion.
“This team never gives up. I am proud to be their coach because they give me 110 percent every game, no matter what the score is,” Hattiesburg Head Football Coach Tony Vance said.
With 4:27 left in the game, Hattiesburg was trailing Picayune 49-34. However, a minute later, Tigers’ D’andre Humbles caught a 38-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Julian Conner to turn the score to 49-42 after a successful 2-point conversion by Murphy.
Then, after Picayune’s Baker scored a 16-yard touchdown, Hattiesburg quickly responded with a 5-yard rushing touchdown by Conner to bring the game to a one-score difference with 7.8 seconds left in the game.
Just to make the game even more interesting, the Tigers’ recovered their onside kick at the Maroon Tide’s 35-yard line. However, after two hail Mary attempts, the Tigers’ could not find the end zone.
“If it weren’t for those two fumbles, we would have lost the game,” Picayune’s Head Football Coach Dodd Lee said. “We are not good enough on defense right now. We need to get a lot better if we expect to keep winning.”
Picayune maintained their undefeated season. The team will face Stone County High School on Oct. 14 for Homecoming.

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