LAUREL, Miss. (WDAM) - The Golden Tornadoes were struggling to put away Pascagoula on Friday, desperate for a momentum-shifting play.
Khylin Dixon seized the moment, scooping up a fourth-quarter fumble and returning it 35 yards to the house in what proved to be the go-ahead score in Laurel’s 21-18 win.
“I just knew that was going to change the game right there,” said Dixon, who also added 12 tackles and a second recovered fumble. “If it weren’t for my teammates, it wouldn’t happen for me to pick up that ball.”
“Khylin’s been our quarterback on defense all year,” said Laurel head coach Todd Breland. “You look up and he’s eight, ten, 12 tackles a game. He’s been a mainstay for us. The other night at halftime we made a statement in there as coaches, ‘Somebody’s got to make a game-changing play this half.’ And [Khylin] went out and did that.”
Dixon’s been the catalyst for Laurel defensively, leading the team with 90 tackles.
The senior linebacker is the commander of a unit which is allowing just 14 points per game.
“Just knowing that we have a young defense and [I] have to step up and be a leader,” Dixon said. “Just to make plays and show them the right way to do it.”
“When you look out there at ‘em, they just give everything they’ve got,” Breland said. “That’s all you can ask out of a group of kids. I’m just as proud of this bunch as any bunch I’ve ever coached.”
Todd’s Tornadoes face their biggest challenge of the year on Friday when they visit Picayune (12-0). The Maroon Tide have pounded their opponents for over 5,000 yards rushing this season.
“Just knowing that we lost to them here last year, knowing that we have to go out there hard, that they’re going to run the ball a lot,” Dixon said. “We got to make plays on defense.”
“We’ll just go out and throw everything at them,” Breland said. “Let our kids play hard like they have all year. We’ve won games this year where we weren’t supposed to win but we find a way to do it. That’s what’s been consistent about this football team all year is when we need the play or we need the drive, we’ve been able to do that.”