SEMINARY, Miss. (WDAM) - On a football Friday night when points were precious, a touchdown run late in the third quarter appeared to have given Seminary High School a little breathing room against Collins High School.
But then the Bulldogs spent most of the fourth quarter holding their collective breath before hanging on for a 19-14 victory in the 2019 season opener for both teams.
“Big rivalry game with Collins and we knew it would be a close game as it has been with Collins for the past several years,” Seminary coach Brian Rials said. "It was a typical first game. A lot of mistakes. But in the end, our defense stepped up to hold them out late in the game.
“Just proud to be a Bulldog (Friday) night. It’s a good win and good way to start the year against a good football team.”
Junior running back Joseph Owens scored on 26-yard touchdown run with 3 minutes, 26 seconds, left in the third quarter to give the Bulldogs a 19-8 lead.
Collins rallied behind senior quarterback Hershey McLaurin, driving deep in Bulldogs’ territory, only to see the threat end on a fourth down interception.
But pinned inside their own 5-yard line, Seminary fumbled, and Collins recovered in the end zone to pull within 19-14.
A penalty on the kickoff buried the Bulldogs deep in their own territory again, and after another Seminary fumble, Collins was at the end zone’s doorstep. But McLaurin was stuffed for a 2-yard loss on a keeper up the middle and another run went nowhere before an incompletion.
The drive ended with Seminary sophomore Ladarius Keys knocking down a fourth-down pass with 3:23 left in the game.
“I wasn’t really thinking about anything," Keys said. “I just knew I had to make a play.”
Collins had one more chance after Seminary had to punt, but Bulldogs not only held, but pushed the Tigers backwards before taking over with 1:07 to play and running out the clock.
“We just couldn’t punch it at the right time,” Collins coach Eric Booth said. “We’re inside the 3-yard line, and we miss a coupler of blocks.
"We just have to finish. You get inside the red zone, you have to finish.”
The start of the game was delayed for a half hour by lightning. After a scoreless first quarter, Collins took an 2-0 lead on a safety before the team’s scored three touchdowns in the first half’s final two minutes.
An 89-yard touchdown run by McLaurin gave the Tigers an 8-0 lead, but junior running back Cameron Sanford scored on a 21-yard run and with 1:04 left in the half, the Bulldogs recovered a blocked punt in the end zone to take a 12-8 halftime lead.
“Just a big changing-point in the game right there,” Rials said. “We got down early. We had our own miscues on a punt, and they capitalized on it. But I knew that was going to happen, giving the field conditions and this being a first game.”
Seminary (1-0) will welcome Stone High School to Seminary at 7 p.m. Friday. Stone (0-1) fell 48-13 at Gulfport High School in its season opener.
Collins (0-1) travels to Jefferson Davis County at 7 p.m. Friday. The Jaguars (0-1) lost 24-0 Friday at D’Iberville High School.