LAUREL, Miss. (WDAM) - For the first time since 2007, Laurel and West Jones high schools will meet on the football field Friday night with more than just Jones County bragging rights and a region victory on the line.
The Region 3-5A foes meet in a Class 5A postseason rematch at 7 p.m. “Between the Bricks” at R.H. Watkins Stadium.
At stake: a spot in the Nov. 27 Class 5A South State championship game.
The two teams last met in the postseason in 2007 in the Class 4A South State semifinals. Laurel topped West Jones 19-7 and then went on to win the school’s second state football championship.
The two reached Friday’s game by different paths.
West Jones (10-2) went on the road and rolled up 403 yards total offense in a 35-23 win over defending Class 5A South State champion Picayune High School. The Mustangs got four touchdown passes out of an aerial attack of 240 yards.
Laurel (8-3) had to hold its breath until the last play of the game, when a missed field goal on the final play of the game locked up a 30-28 victory over East Central High School in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs.
Dexter Scott threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third. His 21-yard pass to Kanarius Johnson gave Laurel a 30-22 lead late in the fourth quarter before Eli Smith’s 15-yard run got East Central within two points with less than two minutes to play.
Laurel stopped a 2-point conversion attempt to hang on to its lead, but then allowed the Hornets to recover an on-side kick for the third in the game. East Central drove inside the Laurel 30-yard line, but a 34-yard field goal attempts came up short and wide.
Laurel and West Jones met during the regular season, with the Golden Tornadoes taking a 19-13 win over the Mustangs.
West Jones outgained Laurel, 391 yards to 212 yards, but the Mustangs hurt themselves with 12 penalties and four interceptions, including one returned 25 yards for a Laurel touchdown by William McCullum.
Scott came up with two big plays, a 69-yard scoring pass to Johnson and a 34-yard touchdown run.
Laurel standout Xavier Evans was held to 39 yards rushing on 21 carries as the Golden Tornadoes gained only 109 yards and one first down on its 51 other offensive snaps.
But West Jones could manage just one touchdown, twice settling for field goals after reaching the red zone.