LYMAN — Harrison Central and Meridian faced off for the first time ever on Friday night with the Wildcats winning in a close contest, 30-29. The loss at Earle Phillips Stadium ends the Red Rebels unbeaten season as they fall to 4-1, while Meridian improves to 3-3.
Harrison Central senior quarterback Tri Gaughf threw for 207 yards and four touchdown passes in the loss. Sophomore Jaden Eckford also stood out for the Red Rebels with 82 total yards on offense and a receiving touchdown.
Meridian quarterback Daniel Hill carried the load offensively for the Wildcats totaling 256 yards on offense, 210 of his yards came on the ground, and four total touchdowns, three of which were rushing touchdowns.
The Red Rebels struck first when Gaughf found receiver Darrion Kirksey for a 70-yard touchdown pass. After a missed extra point the Rebels had an early 6-0 lead late in the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, Meridian cut into the lead with a short field goal, making the score 6-3.
Gaughf and the Red Rebels found the endzone again with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Tyree Barnett, extending their lead to 13-3.
Meridian recovered a Harrison Central muffed punt giving them a short field. They capitalized with a five-yard touchdown run from Hill, making the score 13-9.
Harrison Central closed out the first half with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Gaughf to sophomore Jaden Eckford, giving them a 20-9 lead going into halftime.
Following a Rebel field goal, the Wildcats answered with a 25-yard touchdown run from Hill, bringing the score to 23-16.
Harrison Central was able to extend their lead as Gaughf connected with senior tight end Aiden Branstietter for a 15-yard touchdown pass, but another blocked extra point gave HCHS a 29-16 lead late in the third quarter.
The Rebels could not find an answer for Meridian senior quarterback Daniel Hill. Hill erased Harrison Central’s lead with a three-yard touchdown run and a 27-yard touchdown pass to receiver Timothy Gowdy Jr.
The now 4-1 Red Rebels look to get back on track as they kick off district play next Friday night against the winless St. Martin Yellow Jackets on the road. The Red rebels and head coach Tony Myers will be back home in Lyman to take on Region 4-7A foe Ocean Springs at Earl Phillips Stadium. Harrison Central was attempting to move to 5-0 on a season for the second time in three seasons, as the Red Rebels accomplished that in 2021 under former head coach Casey Cain.