PICAYUNE – The two-time defending state champions looked anything but in the first half of their first-round playoff game against Forest Hill. But Picayune looked more like themselves in the second half in rolling to a 42-0 win over the Pirates and advancing to the next round of the 7A playoffs.
“We were flat and not ready to play,” said head coach Cody Stogner. “But give Forest Hill credit. They gave us all they had and we didn’t match their intensity in the first half. And you can’t do that in the playoffs. I’m excited that we won, but not happy with how we performed in the first half.”
It was a different story for Picayune in the second half as they scored on all four of their drives.
“They realized we were in a dogfight,” said Stogner. “We responded and stayed ahead of the chains, which we weren’t doing in the first half. The good news is we got another Friday and get to go to work on Monday.”
Niquis Ratcliff scored three of the Picayune (9-2) touchdowns and running back Chris Davis, who was injured early in the season and missed six games, showed off his fresh legs in rolling up 146 yards on the ground.
“He has a different giddy up in his step,” said Stogner. “He’s pretty dadgum strong. I’m glad he’s back and has that extra giddy up.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Maroon Tide struck first with 7:32 to play in the second quarter when Ratcliff scored from 5 yards out to cap a 53-yard drive. Morgan Craft tacked on the first of his six extra points.
Picayune went up 14-0 on Ratcliff’s second TD of the night, a 14-yard run just before the half ended. The drive went 48 yards in five plays.
After a failed Forest Hill onside kick to start the second half, Davis scored on a 19-yard run that capped a 6-play, 42-yard drive to make it a 21-0 Maroon Tide lead.
Picayune stretched their lead to 28-0, capitalizing on Kyler King’s interception that set up a 14-yard TD run by Jeremiah Contee.
Darrell Smith put Picayune up 35-0 in the fourth quarter with a 5-yard run that capped a 5-play, 32-yard drive with 10:10 to play in the game.
Ratcliff scored his third TD of the night on a 56-yard run to make it 42-0.
The Picayune defense shut down the Pirates (5-7) offense, holding them to less than 100 total yards.
“The defense played lights out all night,” said Stogner. “Offensively, we got behind the chains in the first half, but that’s something we can fix and clean up going forward.”
Picayune will host Pascagoula in the next round of the playoffs.