Despite being behind after the first half with a 14-7 deficit and offensive uncertainty, the Pass Christian Pirates football team found a way to outscore the Purvis Tornadoes in the second half and win 35-20 in the MHSAA 4A first round playoff matchup.
The playoff win was the first-ever for the Pass Christian High School football team.
Hosting the third Mississippi High School Activities Association Playoff Game in History, the Pass Christian Pirates (8-3) racked up 28 second-half points at the Francis McDonald Stadium.
The Pirates defense forced five turnovers and a special teams on-side kick helped push Pass over the Tornadoes in the first round of the MHSAA 4A Playoffs.
“The defense won this game for us,” said Pass Christian Head Football Coach Blake Pennock. “We had a real gut-check on the offense at halftime and turned it on in the second half.”
Opening the game with the ball, the Pirates’ high octane offense couldn’t find any rhythm and didn’t score until Pass Christian senior quarterback Dustin “Gunslinger” Allison found senior receiver Andrew Moffett on a 31-yard touchdown pass. After Kicker Davon Klein put the extra point through the uprights with 11:51 in the half, the score was 7-7, with Purvis in the lead.
That was the only score for the Pirates in the first half, and the score was 14-7, Purvis,at halftime.
The Tornadoes didn’t fare well in the second half, opening with a turnover on downs. Pass Christian finally took advantage of the situation with Allison running in a six-yard drive with 7:59 left in the third quarter after the extra point.
Purvis would not quit, gathering a nice kick return inside the Pirates’ red zone and scoring a quick touchdown after six plays, but missed the extra point for a score of 20-14, Tornadoes lead.
Unlike the first half, the Pirates answered the call with a 47-yard touchdown pass from Allison to Pass Christian receiver Kameron White. Following Klein’s extra point conversion, the Pirates took their first lead 21-20 with 3:33 left in the third quarter.
At a timely moment, the Pirates’ special teams player KJ Labat recovered the on-side kick Pass Christian attempted. Three plays later, Allison found Pass Christian receiver Dylan Necaise on a 34-yard post route for a touchdown. When Klein put the kick through the uprights, Pass Christian increased the lead 28-20.
Beginning the final quarter, Purvis made its last stand, driving down past midfield until fumbling the ball, which was recovered by Pass Christian defender Xavian Chamberlain.
The next series secured the victory, with Allison finding Necaise again from 12 yards for a passing touchdown. Once the extra point was converted at 8:09 left in the game, the score was 35-20 Pass Christian Lead. With the Pirates stingy defense, Purvis could not come close to the end zone again.
“This was a huge step for our kids and the program,” said Pennock. “I’m proud of these kids, but we are not done yet.”
Pass Christian plays on the road in the second round of the MHSAA playoffs against South Pike next week at 7 p.m.