FOXWORTH, Miss. (WDAM) _ In the end, Friday night’s Marion County Showdown came down to two kicks.
Qavonte Swanigan’s extra point following Jartavious Martin’s 3-yard run in overtime proved the difference as West Marion High School topped archrival Columbia High School 7-6 at Trojan Field.
“What makes it so weird is that we’re probably less than 40 percent on our PATs this year,” West Marion coach Brad Duncan said. “This week, (Swanigan’s) really worked at it, and it was a dadgum PAT that ended up winning a football game for us.”
After neither team could score in over four hard-hitting quarters of regulation, West Marion had first crack with the football from the 10-yard line in overtime.
After Martin scored on third-and-goal and Swanigan converted, Columbia had its chance from the 10.
Greg Fortenberry muscled his way through the right side and into the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, but the Wildcats' extra-point attempt came up short.
That sent the Trojans racing round the football field in celebration of their first victory over the Wildcats in three years.
The win also will send the Marion County Trophy back across the Pearl River for the first time since 2016.
“It’s the first time I’ve won a county championship,” West Marion defensive end Cooper Foxworth said. "Both sides played one heckuva of a ballgame. It could have gone either way. I’m proud of our team, but I’m also proud of their team.
The win lifted West Marion (5-2, 2-1 Region 8-3A) into a second-place tie with Columbia (6-1, 2-1) in Region 8-3A after handing the Wildcats their first loss of the season.
Both teams trail undefeated Magee High School (6-0, 3-0), which defeated Tylertown High School Friday night.
“We knew it was going to be a four-quarter war, and it turned out to be a little extra, and we just came out on the short end,” Columbia coach Chip Bilderback said. "It wasn’t a lack of effort or lack of trying. This game could have gone either way.
“I’m proud of our guys and our effort, and every goal that we want to achieve is still out there … (Region) 8-3A is a tough league and you really don’t have time to sit and pout. It’s like the Southeastern Conference. We have to get back to work so that we can be better.”
Regulation was a dogfight, with West Marion limiting a potent Columbia offense to just 52 total yards. The Trojans had 215 yards, and the better scoring opportunities.
But West Marion hurt itself with penalties, including one that took a touchdown off the scoreboard, and two interceptions. The Columbia defense also rose up, taking the ball away three times on downs, including a goal-line stand right before halftime.
“I’ve been doing this for 30-some years, and I’m not sure I’ve ever had a 0-0 tie in regulation,” Duncan said.
West Marion will travel to Tylertown at 7 p.m. Friday. Columbia will visit Seminary High School at 7 p.m. Friday.