BASSFIELD _ Jefferson Davis County High School may be in its first year of existence, but dang if the Jaguars aren’t playing like the Bassfield High School teams of yesteryear.
JDC, which opened this fall after a merger between Bassfield and Prentiss high schools, rallied Friday from a 16-0 halftime deficit, shutting out Hazlehurst High School in the second half to take a 26-16 victory in the Class 3A South State title game.
“We didn’t play well in that first half, at all,” JDC coach Lance Mancuso said. “They were fired up, and hit us in the mouth, so to say, and it took our kids a little while to get used to the speed of play for a little while.
“We went in at halftime, and got them settled down, made a few adjustments on offense and defense. But the big thing was just getting used to the speed of play. I think that caught our kids off guard. But they held together and kind of fought through it.”
The Jaguars (14-1) will meet Yazoo County High School at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Class 2A state championship game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford. The Panthers (14-0) defeated North Panola High School 59-26 Friday for the Class 2A North State crown.
JDC started pecking away the lead, with junior James Washington scoring on a 7-yard run and then adding a two-point conversion run to get the Jaguars within 16-8.
Senior Terry Bryant pulled JDC even closer on a 4-yard run to get the Jags within 16-14 at the end of three quarters.
Sophomore quarterback Lyric Hall’s 65-yard touchdown pass to senior Ronald Baker put JDC up for good at 20-14, and Hall’s 15-yard touchdown run iced the game for the Jaguars.
Mancuso said the touchdown pass by Hall was an example of the sophomore’s growth.
Hall had ended JDC’s prior possession with an interception. After the Jaguars got the ball back, the coaches dialed up Hall’s pass on first down.
“He’s a kid who’s just gotten better as the season’s gone along,” Mancuso said. “For him to come right back after throwing that interception, that was big for him and for us.”
Bassfield had won a Class 2A crown in 2009 and then four consecutive 2A state championships from 2012-15 before coming up short in the South State title game last season.
Now, the Jaguars will try to carry on a tradition Saturday while creating a completely new one of their own.
“It’s exciting,” Mancuso said. “You’ve got some players who have been there, but this is something new for this group. It’s a special time.”
Taylorsville 48, Collins 32
TAYLORSVILLE _ Freshman quarterback Ty Keyes threw for 370 yards and four touchdowns and ran for a fifth and the Tartars came with three, second-half interceptions to claim the Class 2A South State crown.
The Tigers (12-3) saw a 12-game winning streak snapped.
Taylorsville (14-1) will meet Winona High School at 3 p.m. Friday in the Class 2A state championship game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford. The Warriors (11-3) defeated Calhoun City High School 22-14 Friday to win the Class 2A North State title.
Collins sophomore quarterback Hershey McLaurin threw four touchdowns in the first half, as the Tigers led 26-21 at the break.
McLaurin threw scoring passes of 42 yards and 65 yards to junior Markel McLaurin and 11 yards and 73 yards to senior Tavarian McCullum.
Keyes had scoring passes of 10 yards and 71 yards to junior Letreal Jones and a 73-yarder to senior Malik Strickland.
Taylorsville took the lead for good at the start of the third quarter, when Jones took and toss from Keyes and went 75 yards to put the Tartars ahead 28-26.
Turnovers set up an 8-yard touchdown run by senior Tycarius Roberts and a scoring by Keyes as Taylorsville led 42-26 after three quarters.
A Collins touchdown run cut the lead to 42-32 in the fourth quarter, but Roberts capped the game with a 52-yard touchdown run.
Roberts finished 138 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and also caught a 17-yard pass. Roberts has rushed for 100-plus yards in each of the Tartars’ past three playoff games.
Jones caught six passes for 218 yards and three scores and Strickland had three catches for 97 yards and a touchdown.
East Central 52, Poplarville 45
POPLARVILLE _Throughout the 2017 football season, Poplarville and East Central high schools remained unbeaten, week after week, appearing set on a collision course that would end with the two meeting one another in the Class 4A South State championship game.
That collision took place Friday night, and the game pitting two schools of Hornets exceeded all expectations.
East Central running back Tony Brown’s sixth touchdown of the game with less than two minutes to play broke a 45-45 tie and sent East Central into the Class 4A state championship game at 3 p.m. Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford.
East Central (15-0) will play Noxubee County High School. The Tigers (10-4) defeated Louisville High School 35-38 Friday night to win the Class 4A North State title game.
Poplarville trailed by three touchdowns, 42-21, when Brown took back the second-half kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. It was the second, 90-yard kickoff of the game for Brown, who also ran for three scores and caught a 65-yard pass for a touchdown.
But Poplarville rallied. Peytan Graham scored on a 1-yard run and Cory Knight followed with a 15-yard scoring run to pull Poplarvlle within 42-35 at the end of the third quarter.
East Central place-kicker Branson Davis pushed the lead to 10 points with a 30-yard field goal, but Ethan Spiers answered with a 25-yard field goal to get Poplarville back within 45-38.
Running back Austin Bolton, who ran for three touchdowns, tied the game 45-45 on 50-yard run with less than 3 minutes to play. It was the only time Poplarville had not trailed since the opening kickoff.
Poplarville opted for an on-side kick that East Central recovered at the 48-yard line. Cameron Gray followed with a long run to set up Brown’s game-winner.
Poplarville found itself playing from behind right off the bat after East Central’s Avery White returned a fumble 5 yards for a touchdown and 7-0 lead.
Brown’s touchdown reception made it 14-0 after one quarter.
Poplarville cut the lead in half on an 8-yard pass from Antonio Barnes to Mario Barnes at the beginning of the second quarter, but Brown broke off a 90-yard run, and following a Poplarville fumble, scored on an 8-yard run to put East Central ahead 28-7.
Bolton scored on a 16-yard run to make it 28-14, but Brown took the kickoff back 90 yards for a touchdown to push the lead back to 35-14.
But Bolton answered with an 80-yard run to bring the score to 35-21 at halftime.