Tide "survives"; Beats West Jones 14-7
by Carey Meitzler
In his post game interview, Maroon Tide Head Coach Dodd Lee said that he stressed "surviving" this week's game vs West Jones
to getto the next round of the Class 4A South State playoffs. That approach appeared to ring true as Picayune rallied to beat a
valiant West Jones squad 14-7 before an estimated 3,800 at Picayune Stadium.
Picayune got off to an apparent great start as Albert Richard took the opening kickoff at his own 16 yard line and raced down the
left sideline to the Mustang 38 yard line. On third down at the 33 yard line, sophomore Reginald Bailey got loose on a reverse and
looked as if he would score, but the ball was popped loose by West Jones at the 7 yard line and bounced out of bounds near the
goal line. The officials ruled the ball struck the end zone pylon and West Jones took over at their 20 yard line via the touchback.
Albert Richard (24) looks downfield on the opening kickoff; Reginald Bailey (21) breaks free on the Tide's first possession.
Never team could crack the scoring column resulting in a 0-0 deadlock at halftime. Picayune fumbled three times (twice inside the
five yard line) and West Jones' Corey Cooley intercepted a Micah Hickman pass late in the second quarter to keep the Maroon
Tide scoreless in the first half. The Picayune defense was just as smothering as they forced West Jones to punt three times and
stop their two other possessions with interceptions from seniors Courtney McDougle and Chance Griffith.
West Jones' opened the second half driving 70 yards in 8 plays to take the lead. Their touchdown came on a 17 yard pass from
Chase Headrick to Jerrell Knight with 7:34 left in the quarter. Adam Herrington converted the extra point and Picayune trailed 7-0.
All photos by John Young
Micah Hickman (14) completes a pass for a first down against West Jones.
Picayune, trailing for the first time all year, responded with a 13 play drive that covered 65 yards. Junior Albert Richard darted in
from 17 yards with 1:13 left on the third quarter clock to pull the Tide to within one point at 7-6. West Jones was called for offsides
as the Tide lined up for the conversion attempt and Picayune opted to go for the 2 point conversion after the penalty moved the ball
to one and a half yards from the goal line. Richard ran in behind the left side of the line with sophomore Jon Billups and junior Thor
Newbold pushing back the Mustangs and giving Picayune an 8-7 lead.
After an exchange of punts, West Jones was on the move again behind the passing of Headrick. On first down at his own 35 yard
line, he connected on a pass to tight end Redrick Young at the Picayune 40 yard line, but senior free safety Chance Griffith stripped
the ball, scooped it up, and returned it to the Mustang 47 yard line with 5:08 left in the game. On second down, sophomore Chris
Nixon took a reverse handoff and raced in for the touchdown from 45 yards out. The point after was blocked and Picayune
led 14-7 with 4:15 showing on the clock.
Chris Nixon (3) takes off on a 45 yard touchdown run after a block from Huey Stockstill (63).
On West Jones' next possession, Headrick, who passed for 176 yards on the night, had the Mustangs moving again until senior
linebacker intercepted Headrick's pass at the Tide 27 yard line and broke tackle after tackle on his way to an apparent touchdown
in front of the Tide bench. However, Picayune was flagged for a illegal block on the return and ended up with the ball at their own
29 yard line with 2:07 left.
Picayune fumbled the ball on third down with :27 left in the game and West Jones took over at the Picayune 33 yard line.
After an incomplete pass on first down, Headrick scrambled out of the pocket to his right and lofted an apparent touchdown pass
in the end zone to Knight, but Headrick had passed the line of scrimmage and the play was nullified. The five yard penalty, invoked
from the spot of the foul, moved the ballback to the 32 yard line and resulted in a loss of down. On third down, West Jones
attempted a double pass as they threw behind the line of scrimmage to a wide receiver who attempted a downfield pass that was
incomplete. On fourth down, a "Hail Mary" pass into the end zone fell incomplete and Picayune survived with a 14-7 win.
After the game, Picayune's Head Coach Dodd Lee was happy get the win and gave credit to plays by Griffith and Slaydon as
being the difference.
"Our motto coming into this week was survive and advance. We did that. It wasn't pretty, but I'll take it. In the past, we've had
some (games) that were pretty and we lost. We'll take an ugly one and win."
"We got two big time plays from two of our seniors. The strip by Chance Griffith saved us and then the interception by Levi
(Slaydon) kept us alive."
Albert Richard led the Tide with 91 yards on 24 carries. Picayune rushed for 204 yards on 39 attempts.
Headrick finished 17 of 32 for 176 yards and three interceptions.
Next week, Picayune (10-0) will host McComb, a 21-7 winner over Gautier.