Picayune overcomes Wayne County, 40-38

Published 5:52 am Saturday, November 19, 2016

Picayune place-kicker Isidro Loya is hoisted by a fellow teammate after kicking the game-winning field goal. Photo by Taylor Welsh

Picayune place-kicker Isidro Loya is hoisted by a fellow teammate after kicking the game-winning field goal. Photo by Taylor Welsh

Sometimes all it takes is a little motivation and in Picayune’s case — after being eliminated by Wayne County in the past two playoffs — revenge tasted sweet after Isidro Loya kicked a 30-yard field goal to push the Maroon Tide to take the lead with 8.2 seconds to go in the game.
The game was back and forth in the fourth quarter, but Picayune never let down, beating the defending Class 5A state champions 40-38 in Lee-Triplett Stadium.
“Going into the second half, we knew they were fighting for every inch so I made sure we did the same,” Picayune’s Head Football Coach Dodd Lee said.
After a quick three-and-out on their first possession, Picayune running back David Baker jump-started the Tide offense with a 3-yard touchdown run. Baker would later find the end zone in the first half with another 3-yard punch after a safety by Wayne County due to an intentional grounding penalty in their own end zone, leaving the score at 15-7 with 7 minutes remaining in the first half.
Then, after a Picayune sack on the War Eagles fourth-and-11 on the Tide’s 29-yard line, Josh Littles, who has been hindered by an injury for a couple weeks, split the War Eagle defensive line and took off for a 62-yard touchdown, capping off the first half 22-7.
The War Eagles mounted a quick comeback, scoring twice in less than two minutes—a 19-yard shovel pass to Garius Meyers and a 5-yard option run by quarterback Zabryan Jackson—after a Picayune fumble at their own 15-yard line to close the gap to 1-point, 22-21.
After the scoring frenzy, each team took turns teetering back and forth for possession until War Eagles’ Jackson threw a 23-yard pass to his receiver Will Mangum to take the lead with 24.5 seconds to go in the third quarter.
The undaunted Picayune offense then drove 40 yards before Blake Merrifield bulldozed over three War Eagle defenders during his 41-yard scamper into the end zone, giving the Tide another one point lead, 29-28, with 11:03 remaining.
A fourth-and-goal on the 1-yard line for Wayne County turned into a penalty that pushed them back 5 yards, forcing them to kick a 23-yard field goal to take a 31-29 lead with 7:10 to go.
The lead changes continued into the final minutes of the game after V.J. Holt caught a wide open pass for a 36-yard touchdown, giving the Tide a 37-31 lead with a successful two-point conversion by Baker.
Lee-Triplett Stadium erupted as their Maroon Tide took the lead, but on the ensuing kickoff, Schdarius Chambers returned the ball into Picayune territory. Wayne County would inch their way to the 1-yard line before running back Chris Cooley forced his way into the end zone, giving his team a 38-37 advantage.
With 1:34 left, it was all up to the Tide offense to end the two year drought of being knocked out in the playoffs by Wayne County, and they delivered.
After a couple of strong runs by Shaun Anderson, Loya booted his first game-winning field goal of his career.
“This team has done a lot for me, and I wanted to return the favor. We fought so hard all year and to go out against Wayne County in the playoffs was just not an option for me,” Loya said. “We’re just loving the moment right now.”
Due to the Mississippi High School Athletic Activities reclassification of divisions, Wayne County will now be in Picayune’s Region 7-5A District next year, setting up a potentially epic rivalry between the two teams.
“I don’t know what they are going to look like next year, but I can tell you that those games are going to be fun to play,” Lee said about Wayne County’s move into the district.
Picayune (12-1) will play Laurel (12-1) in the Class 5A South State finals next Friday.

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