PICAYUNE – Two Region 4-6A foes met for the second time this season, but this time the stakes were even higher.
Picayune blew out Pascagoula in their regular season meeting, scoring 51 points in a driving rain storm at War Memorial Stadium. There was no heavy rain in their playoff meeting Friday at Lee-Triplett Stadium, but the Tide put on another dominant performance in rolling to a 38-0 win to advance to the Class 6A South State finals.
It’s the third straight year Picayune has reached the South State championship game.
Picayune (10-2), the two-time defending state champs, scored on all five of their first-half possession to build a 35-0 halftime lead.
“We came out with our hair on fire,” said Picayune head coach Cody Stogner. “It goes back to our weekly preparation and we had a phenomenal week of practice. We executed well. I’m so proud of the way they played.”
Picayune rolled up 285 yards of offense in the first half and the Tide defense held Pascagoula (8-4) to just 57 yards.
“Our defense is the backbone of our team and we go as they go,” said Stogner. “I like our chances against anyone we line up against. A shutout in the second round of the playoffs says a lot about them.”
Defensive coordinator Seth Hayden had high praise for the way his guys performed.
“Give all the credit to our boys,” said Hayden. “They played their tails off. We came in with a basic game plan of taking away their best pass plays and best run plays and we did that. I’m so proud of our guys. ‘Goula is a good team. They have a lot of potent players on offense, so for us to do that is phenomenal.”
Quarterback Brady Robertson, who was 4-of-5 for 88 yards and two touchdowns, said his team was locked in this week.
“We knew we would have to prepare hard this week,” said Robertson. “Everything fell into place and the hard work paid off.”
Picayune converted a pair of fourth downs and capitalized on a failed onside kick to score on their opening drive. Niquis Ratcliff, who rushed for 57 yards on 11 carries, scored on a 7-yard run that capped a 10-play, 53-yard drive. Morgan Craft added the first of five extra points.
The Maroon Tide increased their lead to 14-0 when Robertson hit fullback Jeremiah Contee on a 35-yard TD toss that capped a 78-yard, 10-play drive.
Picayune scored on the fourth play of the second quarter to take a 21-0 lead as Chris Davis scored from 12 yards out to cap a 5-play, 60-yard drive.
Unfortunately, it was his last score of the night. He was ejected in the second quarter for unsportsmanlike conduct following a carry. He ended the night with 78 yards on 13 carries and will miss the first two-quarters of next week’s playoff game.
Meanwhile, the Picayune defense dominated the first half as the offense ate up the game clock. Pascagoula punted on three of their first-half drives and failed on a fourth down attempt at their own 35 late in the half.
Their lone scoring threat of the game was a drive to the Picayune 3, but a fourth-down pass into the endzone on the last play of the half fell incomplete. The drive was highlighted by a pair of Picayune penalties and a 34-yard completion to Bruce Fryfogle.
It was the only scoring threat of the game for the Panthers.
Quarterback Silas Corder was harassed in the backfield all night and had several pass attempts dropped. He completed 8-of-23 passes for 62 yards and a couple of interceptions.
Craft tacked on a 36-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
The Tide will travel to Soso to face West Jones on Friday. The Mustangs beat Terry 21-7.
“We get to practice during Turkey week baby,” said an excited Stogner.