The Bay High Tigers got the early lead against Perry Central (0-3), going up 14-0 and leading 17-6 at halftime, but the Tigers would have to come from behind in the second half to get the 31-20 win in Bay St. Louis on Saturday.
The Tigers’ offense came out in the second half attacking the line of scrimmage with two Noah Cutter runs of 15 and 14 yards to get to midfield, but the Tigers sputtered after that with a personal foul penalty, a sack of their quarterback and another penalty for a procedure violation. The drive ended with the Tigers punting, facing fourth and 37 yards for a first down.
Perry Central capitalized quickly, building momentum, scoring twice in the third quarter. On their third snap of the second half, the Bulldogs would score on a 51-yard pass play. A two-point conversion brought them within three points of the Tigers (17-14).
The Bulldogs’ defense stepped up at that point, denying the Tigers a first down on their ensuing possession, forcing a Tigers’ punt. On their first play from scrimmage, Tyrion Sumrall raced to the outside right edge and sprinted 80 yards for the go-ahead score: 20-17 after the point after kick was blocked.
But the Tigers did not despair as they responded with two touchdowns in a span of five minutes. For the first score, Carmello Simpson fielded the ensuing kickoff near his own end zone, taking off right then changing directions and outracing the field for a 98-yard kickoff return, regaining the lead (24-20) for the Tigers with 2:43 remaining in the third quarter.
The game’s final score came on defense as Joshua Bell intercepted the Bulldogs and returned the ball 85 yards for the Tigers with 9:47 remaining on the game clock.
“That play was huge,” said Tigers coach Jeremy Turcotte. “I am so happy that he was able to step up and make a play. He’s the smartest kid on the team, football wise, classroom wise. He’s shifty; he’s got decent speed.
“We had a key special team’s play by Carmello Simpson, a key defensive play by Josh Bell and we were able to run the ball and throw the ball when we needed to,” Turcotte explained.
“We didn’t blink,” said Turcotte of his team’s ability to not get down after surrendering the lead in the third quarter. “That’s sought of our mantra.”
The Tigers got their first score of the night following a Bulldogs’ turnover, a fumble at the Bulldogs’ 45 yard line. Josh Peters got the Tigers going with consecutive runs of 9 and 17 yards to the Bulldogs’ 16 yard line. Cutter capped the drive with a 10-yard scoring run with 7:19 remaining on the first quarter clock.
On their next possession the Tigers went 93 yards on eleven plays as Peters mixed in some pass plays of 14 (Hosea Singleton), 10 (Terron Bedford) and 23 yards (Singleton) with a 7-yard keeper and a 21-yard carry by Cutter. Simpson carried five yards for the score.
Trevor Bordelon kicked a 21-yard field goal to close out the first half scoring with a 17-6 lead for the Tigers.
“It’s our offensive line,” said Peters of the Tigers’ ability to run the ball through the first couple of games. “I think they came out respecting that last week we passed really well, so they backed up a lot. So when you see that you know that you have to take advantage of it.”
The Tigers were forced to run the ball more than they may have wanted to because of a steady drizzle throughout the game. And the Tigers ran the ball well as they amassed 182 rushing yards, led by Cutter with 106 yards and a touchdown and Peters with 59 yards.
“Noah Cutter made an ESPN highlight play and got flagged for hurdling a guy,” Turcotte explained. “That’s illegal in high school. He got penalized 15 yards for hurdling a guy. Not a lot of people don’t know that it’s illegal to hurdle a guy in high school football, but I’m not going to tell him to not be the great athlete he is. He is an incredible running back; he is a load, and he is good.”
Peters completed four of seven passes for 61 yards. Bordelon scored on four of four on point-after-kicks and a 21-yard field goal.
The game was changed from Friday to Saturday after schools were closed due to Hurricane Sally. But the Tigers didn’t appear to miss a beat as they scored on offense, defense and special teams.
The Bay High football team travels to McComb this Friday for a matchup of Tigers as they take on McComb High School (1-0).