BILOXI – With playoff hopes on the line, Region 4-7A rivals Biloxi and Harrison Central met Friday in what turned out to be a dramatic overtime thriller.
The Indians stormed out to a 17-3 lead and then watched the Red Rebels come roaring back in the fourth quarter to tie the game.
Jalen Johnson, who had a pair of touchdowns on the night, scored on a 12-yard run in the first overtime to give Biloxi a 24-17 lead.
Harrison Central countered with quarterback Tri Gaughf hitting Jordan Anderson for a 12-yard TD strike, but the crucial extra point to force a second OT was mishandled and the Indians came away with a 24-23 victory.
“Both teams fought hard all night,” said Biloxi head coach Katlan French. “I’m proud of the way our team played and kept fighting. We got the lead and they came back. I’ve got a lot of respect for their team. They fought hard.”
The Red Rebels (6-3, 2-2 in 4-7A) waited until the fourth quarter to make it a game.
Down two touchdowns, Gaughf capped a 67-yard drive with a 3-yard run to pull the Red Rebels within 17-10 with 8:06 to play in the game.
Highlighted by Tyree Barnett’s incredible 38-yard catch between two Biloxi defenders, the Red Rebels continued their comeback with Barnett scoring on a 5-yard run. The extra point tied the game at 17 with 4:29 left in the fourth quarter.
The Red Rebel defense then stepped up with Nick Strickland sacking Zac Marlin to force Biloxi to punt from their own six with 2:57 to play in regulation.
HC drove to the Biloxi 14 and Laiche attempted a 31-yard field goal as time expired, but his boot was hooked wide left and forced overtime.
Laiche booted a 36-yard field goal with 3:20 left in the opening quarter to put the Red Rebels on top 3-0. But that was about the only offense HC could manage in the first half.
The Biloxi defense forced the Red Rebels to punt on four of their six first half possessions following their opening drive that led to their only points of the first half.
Facing third and 13 from their own 30, Marlin, who was 9-of-11 for 155 yards in the first half, heaved a jump ball to Tristain Haynes, who out-jumped the defender at the HC 30 and raced into the endzone for the score. Tristan Bourcy added the point after to put the Indians up 7-3 with 1:53 to play in the opening quarter.
A shanked 7-yard punt set up Biloxi at the HC 43 and four plays later, Jalen Johnson scored from six yards out to give Biloxi a 14-3 lead with 7:49 to play in the second quarter.
HC had an opportunity to get back in the game when Tre’Von Deans picked off an errant pass at the Biloxi 31 early in the third quarter, but Anderson picked off a pass in the Biloxi endzone to end the threat.
The Indians then marched 80 yards highlighted by Marlin’s 42-yard toss to Anderson, who ran to the HC 8. Bourcy then booted a 24-yard field goal to give the Indians a 17-3 lead with 2:19 to play in the third quarter.
The Red Rebels then mounted their furious comeback that came up just short.
Harrison Central will host Gulfport Friday in a must-win situation to secure a playoff spot.
Biloxi (5-5, 2-2) will play at D’Iberville Friday with an opportunity to secure a playoff berth.
“We still have a chance,” said French.