by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/Owner – firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Accounting for 369 yards total offense, 3 sacks, and 3 turnovers, the Pass Christian Pirates (7-2, 3-1) football team earned the runner-up spot in District 8-4A with a 35-27 victory over the Bay High Tigers (4-6, 1-3) Thursday, October 26, 2023 at the Joe D. McCulloch Stadium/Tank Williams Field in Bay St. Louis, Miss for their 71st all-time matchup. With this win, the Pirates will host the first round MHSAA 4A Playoffs against the Richland Rangers Friday, November 3, 2023 at the Francis McDonald Stadium in Pass Christian, Miss.
“I thought at times we played really, really well and other times we played really bad and we shot ourselves in the foot on many offensive opportunities,” said Pass Christian first year Head Football Coach Jeff Stockstill. “We never really lost our defensive mindset of bend, but don’t break. I’m really proud that we as a team found a way to win and a way to close a team out.”
Indeed, there is no easy path to the playoffs, especially on the road. Following an opening possession by Bay High, Pass Christian Defensive Back Micah McKay recovered a Bay High fumble at 9:19 left in the first quarter, which led to an 11-play drive by the Pirates only to result in an interception with 3:25 left.
The Tigers took advantage of this turnover with a 7-play drive and one-yard touchdown by Jaylen Antoine with 14 seconds left. After the extra point conversion, Bay finished the first quarter with a 7-0 lead.
Waking up the sleeping giant, Pass Christian scored 22 unanswered points in the half as Pirates Quarterback Ladd Scriber found Terry Patton, Jr. on a 42-yard touchdown strike immediately following the Tiger score, the Specialist Patton then powering in for a 5 yard touchdown run, and Scriber connecting with Receiver Anthony James for another lengthy touchdown pass of 69 yards.
After all of these scores along with a two-point conversion, the halftime score was 22-7 in favor of the Pass Christian Pirates. The Pirates never lost the lead for the rest of the game.
Coming out of the gates, Bay High fumbled on the first possession at the 9:41 mark of the third quarter and recovered by Pass Christian Defensive Back Lashowan Laneaux. With a Pass modest drive, the Pirates missed a 47 field goal attempt after repeated penalties were called.
The Tigers attempted to rally with a 10-play drive and a 25-yard touchdown pass between Quarterback Xander Ladner and Antoine with a cut in the 22-13 lead by the Pirates. Pass Christian’s next possession ended the quarter and Bay picked off the Pirates after three plays and Safety Jeramie Keys returned for a 15-yard touchdown with 11:49 left in the game. The score now was 22-20, but the Pirates lead was not stagnant.
Pass Christian showed true poise by slowing moving the ball on an 8-play drive where Scriber found Tight End Jayden Acker on a dump pass for a five yard touchdown score. Once the extra point was converted, Pass had a new life and increased the lead 29-20 at the 7:15 fourth quarter mark.
Despite the lack of production on the ground, Pass High Running Back/Safety Jacquez Alexander-Dedeaux intercepted the Bay High pass on the next drive, virtually sealing the game with a 25-yard return for a touchdown and 35-20 lead with 2 minutes left.
“I am going to take this game result on me because I didn’t give us an early enough chance on offense,” said Bay High Coach Jeremy Turcotte. “We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times and that’s on me. We just weren’t ready to do the things that needed to be done tonight.”
Scriber led the Pass Christian offense with 312 yards passing and three touchdowns on 16-26 through the air. Patton, James, and Receiver Cooper Schatzle each had over 80 yards receiving and multiple receptions.
On a bend but don’t break mentality from Coach Stockstill, the Pirates defense had multiple turnovers and six tackles for loss. Seniors Zalondre Smith and Braylon Laneaux led Pass Christian’s Defense with 7 tackles a piece. B. Laneaux, Andrew Daniely, and Karston Mooney each had a sack.
The Pirates will play Richland Friday, November 3, 2023 in the first round of the MHSAA 4A Playoffs. This will be Pass Christian’s 9th playoff appearance since the 1982 merger into the MHSAA playoff system and they have only had one victory in 2019 during this time. Bay High will play the undefeated McComb Tigers for their playoff appearance.