Taylorsville, MS (WDAM) - When Taylorsville and Perry Central high schools met on the football field Sept. 22 in New Augusta, a potential unbeaten regular season was on the line.
Friday night, both teams will be competing to continue playing this season.
The Bulldogs (10-1) will visit the Tartars (11-1) at 7 p.m. Friday for a second-round showdown in the Class 2A playoffs.
The winner will face the winner of Friday's Enterprise (Clarke)-North Forrest second-round game in a Class 2A South State semifinal on Nov. 17.
The loser goes home.
"Any game in the playoffs is big," Taylorsville coach Chuck Robertson said. "You win this one, and you get the chance to play the next week.
"So, every playoff game is important, but especially against a team that beat you one time. So, you put a little more emphasis on the game, try and correct some those mistakes you made the first time."
Perry Central defeated Taylorsville 27-6 in the first meeting, jumping to a 16-0 halftime lead and never letting the Tartars catch up.
The Bulldogs' lone loss came in Region 8-2A play, when they dropped a 17-14 overtime game at Collins High School that decided the region championship.
Perry Central coach Chip Bilderback, who coached with his good friend, Robertson, at Jones County Junior College, said both teams know what to expect of one another.
"The last time we played, it was a battle," Bilderback said. "I think this game is going to be a tough battle on the road. They're a very good football team. They're well-coached and I know we're going to get their best.
"But on the flip side of that, our kids play extremely hard. We have a group whose goal is to this thing as far as we can. Every Friday night, out team has done a great job of capturing that passion and enthusiasm that you have to have to be a winning football program. So, I think it's going to be a great high school football game Friday night."
Both teams won lopsided first-round contests, with Perry Central topping Madison St. Joseph Catholic High School 49-0 and Taylorsville beating Bogue Chitto High School 47-7.
Both teams feature deep backfields.
Perry Central sports four players who have rushed for at least 400 yards, led by senior running back Mckail Sumrall, who has run for 1,151 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Tijuane Bolton, who has thrown for just 206 yards in 11 games, has rushed for 678 yards and 18 touchdowns. Sophomore running back Chris Sumrall has run for 537 yards and four scores and junior Derrick Hartfield has 402 yards and five touchdowns.
"That's who we are as a team," Bilderback said. "We like to run the ball and play great defense. We want to impose our will and run the football. We feel like we have the guys who can run the ball and our guys like to play a physical football game."
Taylorsville features four players who have run for 330 yards or more. Senior Tycarius Roberts has run for 486 yards and five touchdowns, sophomore Tariq McCoy has gone for 437 yards and two touchdowns, freshman quarterback Ty Keyes has 398 yards and six scores and junior Carlton Williams has run for 336 yards and six touchdowns.
But the Tartars also throw the football, throw it a lot and throw it well.
Keyes has completed 66.7 percent of his passes (172 of 258) for 3,346 yards and 32 touchdowns with just five interceptions.
Senior Perry Keyes leads the team with 57 catches for 1,049 yards and eight touchdowns, senior Malik Strickland has 29 catches for 679 yards and eight scores, junior Raven Arrington has caught 26 passes for 560 yards and seven touchdowns and junior Letreal Jones has 25 catches for 550 yards and five scores.
"Our offensive coordinator has done an outstanding job of putting us in some great situations," Robertson said of the passing game. "We've done a good job of getting the ball and getting them in one-on-one situations.
"Of course, it doesn't hurt the statistics when you throw a little screen, and he breaks a couple tackles and goes 50 yards."
Robertson said he wasn't sure how much to make of playing a team twice, though he added that playing Perry Central once more than enough for the Tartars to know what will be coming into their stadium Friday night.
"Everybody's been telling me that it's hard to beat a good team twice," Robertson said. "Well, heck, it's hard to beat a good team once, and they're a very, very good football team.
"So, I don't know about playing them twice and whatever. Whoever plays well is going to win."