PINE BELT (WDAM) - COLUMBIA: Last season, the Columbia Academy Cougars made the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools football playoffs for the first time since 2012, winning an opening-round game before falling in the second round of the postseason.
This fall, the Cougars have taken another step forward.
Sophomore quarterback Ras Pace rushed for 139 yards and four touchdowns and threw for a fifth as Columbia Academy took down once-beaten Riverfield Academy Friday 38-26 in Rayville, La.
The Cougars (7-5) trailed 26-22 early in the third quarter, but Pace scored on an 8-yard run to give Columbia Academy a 30-26 lead heading into the fourth quarter and then found senior tight end Owen Harper with an 8-yard touchdown pass to clinch the win.
"That was a good football team," Columbia Academy coach Randy Butler said. "But it just shows you, you get good players and good coaches, and you coach them up and they believe in what they're doing you can accomplish a lot of good things."
Columbia Academy will take to the road for second, consecutive week to face Indianola Academy (12-0) at 7 p.m. Friday in the semifinals of MAIS Class AAA playoffs.
"It's another step for the school and the program," Butler said. "I told them after the game last week that this game coming up is probably the most important game in this school's history.
"We've won a (state football) championship, but that was in a lower classification many, many years ago. Being an AAA and making it to the third round is quite an accomplishment for this school and this program."
Pace completed 13-of-16 passes for 157 yards and he also ran for four, two-point conversions. Senior receiver Aaron Thomas had seven catches for 83 yards.
Junior running back Drew Havard, who did not practice until last week until Thursday because of a bang-up knee, ran for 102 yards.
Columbia led 14-6 after the first quarter and led 22-18 at halftime. The Raiders (10-2) went up four points early in the third quarter on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Garrett Brakefield to John-Michael Whatley followed by a two-point conversion pass between the two.
Brakefield would throw for three touchdowns against the Cougars.
But Columbia scored the game's final, two touchdowns and advanced to play the team that ended their season last year, defending Class AAA state champion Indianola.
"It's like going to Foxborough to play the Patriots," Butler said of Friday's trip to the Delta. "They're an elite team in our (classification), and last year, they won it all.
They lost a lot of good players from last year and had to rebuild a little bit, but they're still really, really good."
The Colonels have outscored their two playoff opponents 73-12, including a 28-0 victory over Leake Academy Friday in the second round.
Madison-Ridgeland Academy 42, Presbyterian Christian 23
MADISON: For the second consecutive week, the Bobcats had to travel north to face the Patriots.
And for the second consecutive weeks, Presbyterian Christian could not hold an early lead, as Madison-Ridgeland ended the Bobcats' season in the first round of the MAIS Class AAAA playoffs.
The Bobcats (6-6) led 16-14 after the first quarter, but the Patriots (8-4) scored twice in the second quarter to take a 28-16 halftime lead. The still trailed by 12 after three quarters, 35-23, and MRA scored one more time in the final period to wrap up the scoring.
Junior Tyson Keys led the Bobcats with 59 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Eric Robinson ran for 28 yards and senior Sheldon James for 24 yards.
Robinson had four catches for 101 yards and a touchdown, while Keys had two catches for 59 yards.
Senior O'neill Walters kicked a 39-yard field goal and two extra points for the Bobcats.
Collins 47, Pelahatchie 14
COLLINS: Sophomore quarterback Hershey Collins threw for 273 yards and five touchdowns Friday as the Tigers advanced to the second-round of the Class 2A playoffs.
The Tigers (11-2), which won back-to-back state championships in 2014-15 before finishing 2-10 last season, won their 11th consecutive game.
Collins led the Chiefs (6-6) after one quarter 6-0 before blowing the game open in the second period, outscoring Pelahatchie 26-8 to grab a 32-8 halftime lead.
Junior Markel McLaurin returned a punt 65 yards for a score and four different Tigers caught at least one touchdown pass. Senior Tavarian McCullum caught three passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns, junior Ja'Damon Maze had three catches for 88 yards and a touchdown, junior Zyrion Thomas grabbed two passes for 96 yards and a score and junior Cyril Graves had a 10-yard touchdown catch.
Collins will host Heidelberg High School for a second time at 7 p.m. Friday. The teams met on Sept. 29, with the Tigers edging the Oilers 19-16.
Heidelberg, the No. 2 seed out of Region 5-2A, defeated Loyd Star 44-14 Friday to advance to the second round. The Oilers' only losses this season have come to teams that have made the playoffs: Class 4A Poplarville High School; Class 3A Southeast Lauderdale High School; Class 2A Taylorsville and North Forrest high schools; and Collins.
The Tigers, which won the Region 8-2A title to earn the region's No. 1 seed, lost its first two games to Class 3A Seminary and Jefferson Davis County high schools by a total of five points.
Poplarville 42, Northeast Lauderdale 27
POPLARVILLE: Sophomore Cory Knight ran for 202 yards and a touchdown and senior Austin Bolton had 66 yards and three touchdowns rushing Friday as the unbeaten Hornets ran past the Trojans.
Northeast Lauderdale junior quarterback Kamerion Hulin threw for two touchdowns, ran for another and returned a kickoff 90 yards for a score to keep the Trojans (6-6) within striking distance.
After Hulin's return pulled Northeast Lauderdale within 35-27 with 5 minutes to play, the Trojans tried an on-side kick. The Hornets (11-0) recovered and Bolton later scored on a 5-yard run to ice the game.
Earlier, Bolton had scored on runs of 2 yards and 9 yards. Senior Paytan Graham had a 2-yard run early in the third quarter and Knight capped Poplarville's opening possession with a 5-yard run.
Hulin threw touchdown passes off 33 yards to senior running back Jarvis Cook and 60 yards to sophomore Joheim Smith. Hulin also ran 5 yards for a score.
The Hornets, the defending Class 4A South State champion who won Region 7-4A this fall, will travel to St. Stanislaus High School at 7 p.m. Friday for a second-round playoff game.
The Rock-a-Chaws (6-5), the No. 3 seed from Region 8-4A, went on the road in the opening round Friday and defeated McComb High School 35-7.