Friday night, the Laurel High School football team found itself in a situation that few thought the Golden Tornadoes could overcome successfully.
Few, except a bunch of guys in cardinal and gold on the Laurel sideline.
Down 22-14 in its Class 5A South State semifinal game with Brookhaven High School, Laurel scored twice in the final 90 seconds of the game, including Zias Perryman’s game-winning 9-yard touchdown run with 8 seconds to play as the Golden Tornadoes stunned the Panthers 26-22 at Blair Stadium.
“I told the team afterwards that (Friday) night was a microcosm of our season,” Laurel coach Todd Breland said. “They’ve never given up all year and they didn’t (Friday) night. They believed they were going to win.”
Junior quarterback Sinclair Ulmer ‘s 10-yard touchdown pass to Melyjah Windham with 1 minute, 30 seconds, to play pulled the Golden Tornadoes within 22-20, and Windham recovered the ensuing onside kick to give the ball back to Laurel.
Ulmer scrambled down inside the 20-yard line, and junior Michael Terrell broke a thrd-down run down inside the 10-yard line.
Perryman then gained the edge on a counter play, followed junior recever Jontarious Henderson’s block into the end zone.
The victory sent the Golden Tornadoes (9-4) into the Class 5A South State title game for the fifth consecutive season. Laurel will visit unbeaten Hattiesburg High School (13-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at D.I. Patrick Stadium.
Hattiesburg, which advanced with a 49-9 win over Stone High School Friday in Perkinston, downed the Golden Tornadoes 20-14 in a down-to-the-wire Lil’ Brown Jug victory in the second game of the season.
The two teams will meet for the sixth in the last three. Hattiesburg has won in the regular season the past three seasons with Laurel winning the past two postseasons.
“I’d say we’re pretty familiar with each other,” Breland said.
Laurel and Brookhaven were familiar with each other as well. The Panthers (11-2) had taken a 42-35 Region 3-5A win over the Golden Tornadoes on Sept. 29 in Brookhaven.
Friday, the Panthers took a 6-0 lead after senior Tyler Mixon kicked a 22-yard field goal in the first quarter and a 33-yard field goal in the second quarter.
But senior linebacker DeMark Smith scooped up a fumble and went 31 yards for a touchdown, and when senior Juan Lechuga added the extra point, Laurel led 7-6 at halftime.
Perryman scored on a 19-yard in the fourth quarter to boost the lead to 14-6, but sophomore J.Q. Edwards scored on a 4-yard run to pull Brookhaven within 14-12 and Mixon’s third field goal, a 40-yarder, gave the Panthers a 15-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Breland said limiting Brookhaven to field goals was critical.
“Our defense kept us in the game all night,” Breland said.
Brookhaven made its an eight-point lead when junior quarterback Sevante Quinn hit junior Dorain German with a 25-yard touchdown pass for a 22-14 lead.
But then came Laurel’s frantic finish.
Brookhaven senior running back gained 156 yards on 29 carries. Quinn completed 2-of-9 passes for 23 yards and a touchdown with an interception.
Jefferson Davis County 42, Port Gibson 13
POPRT GIBSON: The Jaguars broke away from a 7-7 halftime tie, outscoring the Blue Waves 35-6 in the second half, to reach the Class 3A South State title game.
Jefferson Davis County (13-1), which won its 10th consecutive game, will travel to Hazlehurst High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Indians (11-2) won its eighth consecutive game with a 34-28 victory over Forest High School Friday.
Port Gibson finished its season 9-4.
Resurrection Catholic 20, Lumberton 12
PASCAGOULA: The Panthers held a 12-6 lead after three quarters, but the Eagles scored twice in the final period Friday to take the Class 1A South State semifinal victory.
“We had our chances, and we didn’t take advantage,” Lumberton coach Zach Johnson said. “You always second-guess yourself when you lose, you know, think about things you would change, but we’ll use this in the future to make us better
“Hats off to Resurrection. They played really good last night and they deserved to win.”
The Eagles (7-6) took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter on a 33-yard scoring pass from senior quarterback Blake Porter to senior Patrick Lee.
Lumberton (10-3) tied the game at halftime on a 1-yard run by junior quarterback Jared Tribbett, then grabbed a 12-6 lead in the third quarter on a 26-yard fumble return for a touchdown by senior defensive back Kee’von Fells.
But Porter gave Resurrection a 13-12 lead with an 18-yard scoring pass to Lee, and senior Jerry Johnson added a 6-yard scoring run for the final margin.
While disappointed, Johnson said he was proud of the season, which included a Region 4-1A title and two postseason victories.
“It’s like I told our kids and coaches (Friday) night,” Johnson said. “Any time you win double-digit games, and I don’t care what level it is, you have had a good season.
“I’m proud of our kids. We fought through a lot of adversity, where a lesser team might have folded. We played a tough schedule. So, I’m really proud of our kids, the effort they gave and they way they fought. This senior class, over the last three years, has won 30 ballgames, and there’re not too many programs that can say they’ve averaged 10 wins a year the last three years.
“They’ll wake up one day and realize how good a season it was. It’s going to hurt for a little while, and it should. But, I’m really proud of them and the future for our program is bright.”
Nanih Waiya 42, Stringer 18
LOUISVILLE: Senior running back Chris Smith ripped off scoring runs of 71 yards and 76 yards and also caught a 69-yard touchdown pass Friday as the Warriors jumped on the Red Devils early in the Class 1A South State semifinal game.
Nanih Waiya (14-0) will welcome Resurrection Catholic High School at 7 p.m. Friday in the Class 1A South State title game. The Eagles (7-6) defeated Lumberton High School 20-12 Friday to advance.
Stringer (10-4) scored touchdowns in the fourth quarter on sophomore running back Cooper Rogers’ 10-yard run and a 61-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Cayleb Dyess to junior receiver Keyshaun Dease.
The Red Devils also got a 26-yard field goal from Haden Boyd and a safety.
Nanih Waiya senior quarterback Bryce Stanton threw for a pair of scores, one to Smith and a 34-yard pass to senior Roper Ball and also scored on a 24-yard run. Senior Taemus Glass added a 10-yard scoring run and a two-point conversion.
Meridian 38, Petal 28
MERIDIAN: The Wildcats shut out the Panthers in the second half Friday to reach the Class 6A South State title game.
Petal (8-5), which lost to Meridian for the second time in a month, trailed 28-7 in the first half after the Wildcats (7-6) returned a fumble for a touchdown. But the Panthers scored three times in the second quarter to knot the game at 28-28 in the second half.
Meridian will travel to Pearl High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Pirates (14-0) defeated Hancock High School 41-3 Friday.
Pearl beat the Wildcats 34-12 on Sept. 29 in a Region 3-6A contest in Meridian.