Tartars top Eupora in 2A thriller

By By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
Dec. 8, 2002
JACKSON – Colt Bankston's last kick of 2002 was a whole lot better than his first one … and a whole lot more important.
Bankston's 28-yard field goal as time expired gave Taylorsville a 22-19 win over Eupora for the Class 2A state championship before an estimated crowd of 5,500 at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon.
On his first kick of the year, Bankston, a 170-pound freshman, missed the ball completely. A total whiff.
Jonathan Keyes set up the winning field goal when he picked off a short Cliff Davis pass and headed for the goal line. A block in the back moved the ball back to the 16. Bankston then had to watch three running plays, one of which Taylorsville fumbled but recovered, before trotting on the field and enduring a pair of Eupora timeouts.
All of Taylorsville was nervous as the Tartars entered the fourth quarter looking squarely at a 19-3 deficit.
Taylorsville, 12-3, got to within 19-11 with 10:50 to play when Vance Mathis capped a seven-play, 62-yard drive with a 12-yard run up the middle. His touchdown was the drive's only run. Kris Thigpen hit Craig Agee for a two-point conversion.
The Tartars got the ball back with 7:57 left, but punted it back with 6:01 remaining after Thigpen was sacked twice.
Eupora, however, took only 51 seconds off the clock after throwing a pair of incompletions.
The Eagles, 13-2, sacked Thigpen twice again, leaving the Tartars facing fourth-and-15 from their 24. Agee hit Larry Page, who bounced off Michael Johnson near midfield and raced 70 yards to the 6 before Tarrell Patterson ran him down.
Two plays later, Agee scored from a yard out. Agee then leaped over the top for the tying two-point conversion with 2:07 to play.
Eupora's collapse wasn't over as Keyes picked off a Davis pass to set up the winning kick.
Bankston's day didn't start out good as he missed a 25-yard field goal wide right on Taylorsville's first possession.
Eupora put together a 13-play, 80-yard scoring drive capped by a 27-yard pass from Davis to Aaron Purnell with 10:14 to go in the second quarter. A low snap caused the extra point to be blocked.
Bankston made a 23-yard field goal with 11 seconds left in the first half to pull the Tartars to within 6-3.
Eupora covered 67 yards in six plays to go up 12-3 with 6:34 left in the third period. Davis avoided a sack and hit a diving Purnell in the left corner of the end zone. Another low snap enabled the Tartars to smother the PAT.
The drive's big gainer was a 54-yard pass from Davis to Eric Marshall.
The Eagles grabbed a 19-3 lead with 50 seconds remaining in the third period. It took 12 plays to negotiate 58 yards with Davis combining with Curry Johnson on an 18-yard touchdown toss. Corey McCain kicked the extra point.