by Hunter Dawkins & Calvin Ishee

With their fifth playoff opportunity in the history of the program, the Pass Christian Pirates finally broke the seal to earn the program’s first playoff victory in team history Friday night at Francis McDonald Stadium.  Despite being behind after the first half with a 14-7 deficit and offensive uncertainty, the Pass Christian Pirates (8-3) football team found a way to outscore the Purvis Tornadoes in the second half and win 35-20 in the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) 4A first round playoff matchup.

This accomplishment was one of many for this year’s Pirates along with earning Pass Christian’s first guaranteed winning season in 19 years.  Hosting the third MHSAA Playoff Game in History, the Pass Christian Pirates 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.

“Just super proud of our team to be able to stay the course when it wasn’t going our way early and trust our adjustments and ability to get the job done,” said Pass Christian Head Football Coach Blake Pennock.  “The defense won this game for us and we turned on the offense in the second half.”

Opening the game with the ball, the Pirates’ high octane offense (which scored 368 points during the regular season) 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.

The passing touchdown was the only score for the Pirates in the first half, and the score was 14-7, with a Purvis lead at halftime.

The Tornadoes offense 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 with a Tornadoes lead.

Unlike the first half, the Pirates answered the call with a 47-yard touchdown pass after a four play drive 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.

Allison led the Pirates with 228 yards passing, four touchdown passes, 63 yards on the ground, and one rushing touchdown.  Pass Christian Senior Running Back Huu Nguyen led the team with 111 yards rushing on 14 carries.

Among Pass Christian Receivers, Dylan Necaise led the Pirates in receptions catching 3 passes for 83 yards and 2 touchdowns.  White finished with 63 yards and Moffett had 59 yards, both with one touchdown.

“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 for another first against South Pike in Magnolia next week at 7 p.m.  The South Pike Eagles are undefeated at 12-0 and beat the Northeast Jones Tigers 48-7 in the first round.

(Photos by Richard Gleber and Calvin Ishee)