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Wildcats lose in overtime

By By Tony Krausz/assistant sports editor
October 11, 2003
PICAYUNE Meridian High School did everything a team needed to do to win a football game, but the Wildcats (4-3) came up short in overtime.
Meridian High forced four turnovers (three fumbles, one interceptions), and the team almost came up with a game saving goal line stand in overtime.
But Picayune High School kicker Scott Hillary hit an 18-yard field goal in the first overtime to push the No. 8-ranked Maroon Tide (6-1) past the No. 16-ranked Wildcats 17-14 on Friday night.
Hillary was forced to bend his game-winning kick through the uprights, after the Wildcats defense came up with two big plays in the extra frame on the muddy, torn up field on a rainy night.
Picayune running back Justin Magee, who rushed for 81 yards on 24 carries, moved the ball to the Wildcats' two-yard line on the Tide's first play in overtime. Each team got the ball on the opponent's 10-yard line in overtime.
Meridian High followed the eight-yard Tide gain by stuffing quarterback Chris Stewart on the one-yard line on the next play, and the defense stopped Stewart again on a sweep to force Picayune to attempt the short field goal.
The Wildcats appeared to be in the driver's seat with 3:41 left in the third quarter.
Meridian High wide receiver Thomas McCoy returned a Picayune punt to the Tide's two-yard line from the opponent's 44.
Wildcats sophomore running back Cordera Eason, who gained 71 yards on 19 carries and scored twice, pushed the ball across the end line on the next play for a 14-7 lead, with just over three minutes left in the third.
Picayune turned the Tide with just over three minutes left in the game with a completion to Quincey Coleman on a third-and-16 play from Meridian High's 38.
Coleman hauled in Stewart's pass at the 30-yard line, and he evaded two defenders for a 38-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14.
Meridian High forced two of its turnovers in the opening half, as the two teams felt each other out on a progressively sloppier field.
Wildcats defensive back Lavarue Rue saved a potential touchdown run by Magee with just over four minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The junior cornerback chased Magee down and popped the ball out of the tailback's hand around the three-yard line to keep the Tide from scoring on a 29-yard run. The ball rolled out of the end zone giving the Wildcats the ball on their own 20.
Wildcats linebacker Thomas Smith came up with Meridian High's second big play of the opening 24 minutes of the game in the second quarter.
The 185-pound senior picked off Stewart's lone pass attempt of the first half on Picayune's 46-yard line.
Meridian High quickly took advantage of the turnover, scoring on a 15-yard run by Eason.
The 214-pound back broke three tackles at the line of scrimmage, and he wiggled free of a defender's grip on his ankle at the five-yard line for the touchdown and a 7-0 lead, with 9:12 left in the first half. Senior Andrew Gambrell kicked the extra point for Meridian High.
Picayune made sure the lead was short-lived for Meridian High just under two minutes after Eason's touchdown run.
After Gambrell booted the kick off deep into the Tide's end zone for a touchback, Picayune used misdirection to find the end zone from its side of the field.
Stewart faked a hand off to fullback Tim Gaff, with the ball on the Tide's 27. The senior signal-caller sprinted to the right side line with the ball for a 73-yard touchdown, as the defense bit on the fake.
Hillary sent the extra-point attempt through the uprights to tie the game at seven, with 7:35 left.
Meridian continues its season against No. 3 Oak Grove at 7:30 p.m. Friday on the road.