LAUREL — It turned out to be a case of the “Terrible Two’s” for Gautier Friday night.
For the second consecutive season, the Gators were playing in the Class 5A South State championship game. Also, for the second time this season, Gautier was facing Region 4-5A rival Laurel on the road as the Gators made their second-ever trip “Between the Bricks” here to Watkins Stadium.
And, for the second straight season, the Gators failed to reach the state championship game because for the second time in just three weeks Laurel beat Gautier.
The home-standing Golden Tornadoes knocked off the visiting Gators 31-10 Friday night before at big crowd ending Gautier’s season at 8-5 overall while Laurel moves to 8-6 and is headed for a match-up in Oxford next week in the Class 5A state championship game against West Point.
The Gators, under seventh-year head coach Marc High, fell to Picayune last season in the Class 5A South State championship game as well in what was the first-ever appearance in the overall semifinal round in school history for Gautier.
Laurel wasted no time in taking a quick lead it would never relinquish, after returning the opening kickoff to mid-field and then scoring just four plays later to make it 7-0 less than three minutes into the game.
Gautier made a game of it for most of the first half though, as Eric Robinson booted a 20-yard field goal to make it 7-3 late in the first quarter and then after another Laurel score, C.J. Mccreary ran it in from two yards out to make it 14-10 with five minutes to go before halftime.
But that would be as close as the Gators would get, as Laurel scored 17 unanswered points to close out the game and secure the win.
Gautier is now 0-3 all-time against Laurel all-time on the football field. Just three weeks ago, in the regular season finale for both teams and in the Gator’s first-ever trip to Watkins Stadium, Laurel beat Gautier 48-30 in a battle for the Region 4-5A title.
Laurel will now face perennial Class 5A stat power West Point who will be playing in the state championship game for the eighth straight season. Laurel has won three state crowns and played for three more, while the Green Wave from West Point 11 state titles and played for the crown four other times including losing in the Class 5A state championship game the past three seasons twice to Picayune and once to West Jones. Laurel’s last state title came in the 2014 season.