HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) _ It was a question best saved for last early Saturday night, a what-if proposition that can’t really be answered and really won’t be even if Taylorsville and Scott Central high schools were to meet for a Class 2A state football championship over the next few years.
“If (Ty) Keyes would have played, I don’t know what he would have done, but we would have called the same game,” Scott Central coach Devin Cooper said. “We do what we do here at Scott Central, and if you’re better than us, then you’re just better. We’re going to do what we do.”
What the Rebels did Saturday was lean on and eventually dominate Taylorsville in a 21-7 victory that gave Scott Central a second state crown to go with school’s only other from 1999.
“We had a great run, a 20-something (25) games in a row, but we couldn’t finish the deal,” Taylorsville coach Mitch Evans said. “It’s just disappointing, man. I felt like we were the better team, but we weren’t (Saturday). Ifs, ands and buts…”
The Tartars were without Keyes, Class 2A’s “Mr. Football,” who led Taylorsville to a state championship in 2017 and had it poised to defend its crown with 15 consecutive wins running up to Saturday’s game.
But Keyes was on crutches and on the sideline Saturday after fracturing his right ankle in the second quarter of the South State title game with Bay Springs High School.
Enter Taylorsville freshman Karson Evans, the coach’s son, back-up quarterback and first-time starter.
Evans connected on senior Jabez Griffith on a screen pass that went 56 yards for the game’s first score and a 7-0 Tartar lead.
That was the highpoint of the day for Evans and Taylorsville.
Saturday, Scott Central (15-1) just wore away at the Tartars, limiting Taylorsville to minus 3 yards rushing, and putting the game into Evans’ hands.
“He did what we asked him to do,” Evans said. “He didn’t make any mistakes until late, and those were ones we forced him into.
The Tartars struggled indeed, managing just five, first downs and 142 yards total offense.
Of the Tartars’ 145 yards passing, 114 yards came on two plays: the scoring play with Griffith on Taylorsville’s first possession of the game and a 58-yard completion with freshman Cedrick Beavers in the fourth quarter.
Evans hit four of his first seven passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. The rest of the game, he completed 5-of-16 passes for 72 yards with two interceptions.
“We just couldn’t do enough offensively to keep our defense off the field,” Evans said. “They were giving us a ‘light” box, and we still couldn’t get them blocked. They were just better than we were up front.”
And big in the backfield, where 6-foot-1, 272-pound senior fullback Hydee Barlow and 6-1, 217-pound senior running back Navonteque Strong complemented the cat-quick, jabs-of-a-run by 5-7, 150-pound sophomore quarterback Treyon Wash.
The Rebels rushed for 323 yards on 60 carries, finishing with more than 400 yards total offense.
“We’ve got guys like Hydee, we’ve got guys like Strong,” Cooper said. “We’ve got a lot of big kids. and we’re not going to hide that. We’re not going to outrun you down the sideline, but we can hit you in the mouth a little bit.”
Barlow, who was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, went for 102 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Wash, who was 7-of-8 passing for 80 yards, rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
Barlow scored on a 1-yard run to tie the score in the second quarter, then added a safety to lead 9-7 at halftime.
Wash’s 8-yard run in the third quarter bumped the lead to 15-7, and Barlow’s 1-yard run in the fourth quarter padded the lead.