by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/Owner – or

Following a first half score of 21-7 in favor of Long Beach at the 6th Annual Oyster Bowl, the Pass Christian Pirates High School football team went to the locker room searching for answers.  The Pass Pirates came out with the four leaf-clover, scoring 42 unanswered points, earning their fifth consecutive Oyster Bowl Trophy, and winning their 300th game in program history 49-21 over the Long Beach Bearcats.

“Really, really ugly first half and a whole lot better second half,” expressed Pass Christian Head Football Coach Jeff Stockstill, entering his first year after winning consecutive Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) 2A State Championships with Scott Central.  “It was less coaching and more looking in the mirror at halftime, we didn’t make as many adjustments as you would think.”

Since the Pirates deferred the opening kickoff to Long Beach, Pass Christian took the ball to open the third quarter and drove down the field, finishing with a 25-yard touchdown toss from Quarterback Ladd Scriber to Receiver Cooper Schatzle for the first touchdown of the second half.  The Pirates extra point was blocked, leaving the score at 21-13 with a Long Beach brief lead at 10:22 in the third quarter.

Momentum began to shift as the Long Beach Bearcats were forced to punt and Pass Christian Senior Anthony James took the game on behind his legs, returning a punt for a 57-yard touchdown. With the Pirates collecting a 2-point conversion, the score was tied at 21 and Pass High never trailed again.

After the Bearcats couldn’t catch a break on the next possession, they punted to James again deep in the Pass Christian territory.  The legs of James didn’t care, returning the punt 93 yards and diving at the pylon only to be spotted inside the one where Scriber sneaked in for a touchdown.  Karsten Mooney converted the extra point for the Pirates, who took the permanent lead 28-21 with 5:26 left in the third quarter.

Three straight rushing touchdowns from Jacquez Alexander-Dedeaux, Terry Patton, and Mikhai Trotter gave Pass Christian a little cushion on the scoreboard after Long Beach threw an interception, fumbled a kickoff, and a few mishaps gave the Pirates possessions.

“We came out and played the best first half of football since I took the job in the spring of 2022. The second half was plagued with an interception, poor tackling and special teams mistakes,” said Long Beach Head Coach Jacob Massey at the start of his second year.  “If we could have limited the big special teams plays in the second half I think we would have had a different outcome. We also ran out of gas in the 4th quarter. We have a lot of kids playing both ways and that caught up with us late in the ball game. I was proud of how our kids played in the first half. Hats off to Coach Stockstill’s staff and team for being ready to play.”

Indeed, the Bearcats came out of the gates in the first half with 21 straight points after an opening Pass Christian touchdown.  Long Beach Running Back Taj Aubert tied the game with a touchdown dive from about 7 yards out and an extra point conversion by Bearcat kicker Alan Long.

An onside kick from Long Beach was recovered by Bearcats Sophomore SJ Valentine which led to an 8-yard touchdown run by Quarterback Will Brady and 14-7 lead.

Before the half, Long Beach Running Back Junior Brown raced right up the middle for a 70-yard touchdown run on the Bearcats last possession at 5:12 left in the second quarter.

The Pass Christian Pirates total offense accounted for 305 yards, but 243 were from the ground, led by Alexander-Dedeaux who finished with 169 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns.  The Bearcats had 276 yards total offense, most picked up by Brown with 151 carries on 12 attempts and a score.

Defensively, Pass Christian stepped up with multiple sacks, interceptions and a fumbles.  Returning All-District Defensive Lineman Jayden Acker not only had multiple sacks, but led the team in solo tackles and overall tackles.  Pirates defensive backs Lathan Lewis and Braylon Laneaux both pulled interceptions while Paris Trivillion jumped on a fumble recovery.

Long Beach Linebacker Sage Fayard finished with multiple sacks for the Bearcats.

The Pass High Pirates hope to continue their home performance Friday night, September 1, 2023 at the Francis McDonald Stadium against the Purvis Tornadoes and Long Beach will host their first game against the Forrest County Agricultural Center High School (FCAHS) at the Lumpkin Magee Stadium.  Both games are scheduled to start at 7pm.

(Photos by Aimee Cronan/The Gazebo Gazette via Associated Press)