PASS CHRISTIAN – Two third-quarter Anthony James’ punt returns sparked the Pass High Pirates 49-21 comeback win over Long Beach on Friday night in the annual “Oyster Bowl” battle between the two neighboring rivals..The Pirates trailed the visiting Bearcats 21-7 at halftime, but the home team scored touchdowns on all four third-quarter possessions while their defense held the Bearcats to three first downs in the period.
The four third-quarter touchdowns were scored on a pass play, two rushing plays and a punt return, but the biggest play of the period was James’ punt return of 89 yards to the Long Beach one yard line. Ladd Scriber would carry the distance for his second touchdown of the night to give the Pirates the lead at 28-21 at the 5:24 mark of the period.
Preceding that score, the Pirates’ defense held the visitors to four snaps and a punt from their own 18-yard line. James fielded the punt at the Pass 45-yard line, and sprinted through blockers in the middle of the field before breaking outside to the Pass sideline to take it in for the 55-yard score. Jaquez Alexander would carry for the two-point conversion to tie game at 21-21 with 7:49 showing on the third quarter clock.
The Pirates opened the second half with a 5-play, 52-yard drive, capped by a 30-yard scoring toss from Ethan Stockstill to Cooper Schatzle to put the Pirates within 8 points after the PAT kick attempt failed.
Alexander closed out the third quarter scoring for the Pirates with a 32-yard touchdown carry with 38 ticks remaining in the third quarter. The PAT kick attempt was blocked, but the Pirates statement had been made as they amassed 27 points and a 34-21 lead after three quarters.
Pass first-year head coach Jeff Stockstill said the Pirates’ third quarter step up in play was the result of some soul searching.
“There were a few adjustments made, but the bottom line was ‘look in the mirror,’” said Stockstill. “We had trained hard; we had practiced hard. I thought we were prepared. After the first two drives(we) kept shooting ourselves in the foot, putting us in a significant hole.
“That was as poor a performance as I had seen in my twenty-three years of coaching,” Stockstill said of his team’s second quarter performance. “But I’m proud of the guys; they regrouped and
started communicating better, working together, and it ended working out good for us.”
Long Beach captured the momentum late in the first quarter after denying Pass on fourth and long play. The Bearcats would put together a 5-play 55-yard scoring drive, capped by a Jay’Quawn McCall 2-yard touchdown carry. Caden Ahrens PAT kick tied the game at 7-7.
The Bearcats then caught the Pirates off-guard with a successful onside kick. They would put together an 8-play drive, and a 14-7 lead at the 8:06 mark of the second quarter.
The Bearcats defense stiffened on the next Pass possession, and once again the Bearcats’ offense went to work, this time on two plays as Jr. Brown would carry 77 yards to put the Bearcats up 21-7 with just over five minute to go in the second quarter.
“We ran out of gas,” said Long Beach coach Jacob Massey. “Right now, where our program is, we just don’t have very much depth. We’re trying to build on it. We had a couple of guys get hurt. One guy left in an ambulance with full-body cramps. I don’t think if we run out of gas right
there, we finish the second half, I think it’s a different ball game.”
The Pirates would score two fourth quarter touchdowns to add to their lead, the first on a Terry Patton one-yard scoring carry followed by a 2-point conversion carry early in the period. Mikhai Trotter closed out the game’s scoring with a 23-yard carry at the 7:25 mark of the period.
Long Beach will host Forrest County Agricultural High School next Friday. Pass Christian will host Purvis on the same night.