by Hunter Dawkins & Calvin Ishee
Just as most people expected, the last regular season game between cross-town rivals Pass Christian and St. Stanislaus came down to a battle of possessions. Having the ball last, the Pass Christian Pirates chipped in a 26-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Davon Klein and no time left for a 38-35 victory over the St. Stanislaus (SSC) Rock-a-Chaws (6-4, 2-2).
The Pirates (7-3, 3-1) secured the second seed in District 8-4A, and Pass Christian will host its third playoff matchup in school history and the first winning season in over eighteen years. Additionally, this Pass Christian squad set a new team record for most points scored during a regular season, finishing with 368 and defensively shattering the most points allowed by only giving up 259. Both of these original records were set by teams over a decade ago.
“I’m proud of our team with the way we handled adversity and kept focus on the plan throughout the game,” said Pass Christian Head Football Coach Blake Pennock. “We had some players really step up in key moments and make some big time plays for us to win this game.”
As the Rockachaws received the kickoff, SSC marched down the field on a twelve play drive before the Pirates defender Xavian Page grabbed an third down interception in the end zone. Even with momentum change, Pass Christian failed to move the ball offensively and gave the ball back.
This time, the Rockachaws only took three plays, as SSC Senior Quarterback Max Favre found Tight End Lee Negrotto for the first time on a 10-yard touchdown pass. After St. Stanislaus kicker Gene Hoffman put the extra point through the uprights, the score was 7-0 Rockachaw lead with 3:10 left in the first quarter.
The Pirates didn’t wait long, as Senior Quarterback Dustin “Gunslinger” Allison found Pass Christian receiver Kameron White on a 12-yard touchdown pass after a ten play drive with 15 seconds left in the first. Klein kicked his first extra point through the uprights to tie the score 7-7.
Towards the end of the first quarter, the Rockachaws gathered decent field position from a short kickoff to drive close to midfield. The Rockachaws committed their second turnover on the night by tossing another interception, only this was returned 55 yards by Pass Christian Senior Safety Andrew Moffett for a touchdown. Once the Pirates kicker Klein converted the extra point, the new score was 14-7 Pass Christian lead.
The “Rowdy” Rocks never gave in the whole night, starting from midfield off a decent return and scored on a 25-yard touchdown strike between Quarterback Favre and SSC Tight End Negrotto for the second time after five plays. Hoffman put the extra point through and tied the game again 14-14.
During the next few possession, the Pirate fumbled the ball near midfield only to have SSC march down offensively and have a 25-yard field goal blocked by Pass Christian Safety Aden Purchner. On the second play of the next series, the Pirates fumbled the ball back to St. Stanislaus at midfield.
SSC took advantage of this turnover with Favre finding the Rockachaws Receiver Bradley Darby on a 15-yard round with 1:40 left in the game. With Hoffman’s extra point, St. Stanislaus took the lead 21-14.
In an unconventional situation, the Pirates punted back to the Rocks where the St. Stanislaus offense fumbled after two plays in the red zone to Pass Christian defensive lineman Bryson Adams. Once Pass Christian gained control, the Pirates scored on a three-yard run from running back Gordon Ward with 19 seconds left. Following the point-after attempt, the score was tied at the half, 21-21.
The halftime break didn’t slow down the Pirates, as Pass Christian scored on a four play drive with Allison sneaking in a one yard touchdown on a four play drive with 10:37 left in the third quarter. Following Klein’s extra point conversion, Pass Christian took the lead again 28-21.
Despite having the ball for six minutes and fourteen plays, the Rockachaws could not muster anything out of the next possession and turned the ball over on downs. However, Pass Christian gave them the ball back on the next plays as the Rockachaws safety Grant Sides made a quick interception.
The Rockachaws took the bait, drove down and scored on a two yard touchdown run from SSC running back Jaxson Favre. When Hoffman kicked the extra point through with 3:00 left in the third quarter, another tie score lit up the scoreboard 28-28.
Pass began the quarter with a nine play drive, ending on a two yard touchdown run by the Pirates Senior Running Back Huu Nguyen. As Klein’s final extra point sailed through the uprights with 11:35 in the game, Pass took the lead again 35-28.
Both teams swapped fumbles for the next two minutes before SSC put their final marbles on the table with a thirteen yard drive to tie the game. After St. Stanislaus slowly marched down the field, Negrotto ran a reverse sweep to the pylon for a 9-yard touchdown. Once Hoffman converted his final kick, the score was tied 35 all with 3:47 left in the game.
With this Pirates overcoming adversity all year, Pass Christian drove down the field in thirteen plays and gave Klein the midfield opportunity to secure the victory.
“The game was a good one between both teams,” said St. Stanislaus Head Football Coach Nate Encrapera. “I thought turnovers during certain times of the game is what cost us.”
St. Stanislaus (6-4, 2-2) ended its regular season Friday, but will play on the road next week in the first round of the MHSAA playoffs as the #3 seed from the district against Poplarville.
The Rockachaws Quarterback Max Favre led the team with 285 yards passing and 3 touchdown tosses. St. Stanislaus Receiver Lee Negrotto had 8 receptions for 102 yards and three touchdowns.
Pass Christian will host the Purvis Tornadoes next week, which they beat in an earlier road matchup this season.
The Pirates Senior Dustin “Gunslinger” Allison led Pass Christian with 230 yards, one passing touchdown and one touchdown rushing. Allison eclipsed a 30 touchdown passing mark during the regular season, which sets a new record for the Pirates.
(Photos by Richard Gleber)