PICAYUNE — As Hancock High crossed the county line to face Picayune Thursday night in Region 4-6A play at Lee-Triplett Stadium, it had been 19 years since the Maroon Tide and the Hawks faced off on the football field.
Picayune decided to pick right up where it left off in 2004.
The Maroon Tide wrapped up the regular season with its 19th straight region win, a 49-21 decision over the Hawks. Picayune had clinched their third straight league title with a big win over George County last week.
Both teams had already clinched berths in the upcoming Class 6A South State playoffs before Friday’s game, as Picayune fiishes the regular season at 8-2 and Hancock at 7-3 but the Hawks lost three out of its final four games after starting the season at 7-0 and wound up at 2-3 in the region race and with the fourth seed.
The last time these teams met, Picayune also won at home 40-3.
The back-to-back defending state champion Maroon Tide got off to a commanding lead and never looked back, eventually leading 49-0 at halftime. It marked Picayune’s biggest lead mid-way through a game since leading Long Beach 70-0 in 2012.
“Our defense came out and did exactly what they said they were going to do all week in the first half,” Picayune head coach Cody Stogner said. “We couldn’t have played much better on either side of the ball, but the defense made a statement.”
Senior Dandy Dozen tailback Chris Davis saw his first action in six weeks, since suffering an injury against Gulfport, and both he and third-string tailback Niquis Ratcliff picked up over 100 yards rushing in the first half alone. Ratcliff got the Maroon Tide rolling on the scoreboard on Picayune’s opening possession when he scored on a 30-yard scamper less than two minutes into the contest.
Brady Robertson then registered a 29-yard touchdown toss to second-string tailback Darrell Smith to make it 14-0, and Davis scored on a five yard run to make it 21-0 at the end of the first frame.
“Having those three guys back there at the same time just brings a whole new dynamic for us offensively,” Stogner added. “Of course it all starts up front with the offensive line, but having those three tailbacks is a blessing.”
The second stanza was much more of the same.
Picayune scored on all seven possessions in the first half. In rapid succession, Davis added a 4-yard touchdown run to make it 28-0. Colt Robertson hit Smith on a 14-yard scoring strike to make it 35-0 mid-way through the quarter.
The Maroon Tide closed out the half with a scoring scamper from Ratcliff and a 4-yard touchdown jaunt from Cam Quinn to take the 49-0 advantage into intermission.
Both Hancock’s Zach Gullang and Picayune’s Jeremiah Contee were ejected after a brief skirmish in the second quarter. Both will miss the first half of the first-round playoff game next week.
With Picayune’s reserves in and a running clock in effect, Hancock quarterback Dylan Moran scored on a 4-yard scoring run on the Hawks’ first possession of the second half to help HHS avoid the shutout.
Moran then added a 54-yard scoring strike to Neil Acker in the fourth quarter, and Hawk defender Alexander Vincent returned an interception around 50 yards for a score as well to complete the scoring.
Morgan Craft was perfect on all seven point after attempts for Picayune.