Friday’s MHSAA 4-A football playoff game between Stone High and Moss Point was a tale of two halves.
The first half was defensive contest that saw three turnovers on downs, one punt and both teams held scoreless until there were only 11.1 seconds left on the second-quarter clock.
Then, the Tigers’ long snapper sent the ball high on a punt attempt from the Moss Point 15-yard line and A.J. Petty tackled the punter in his own end zone for a safety.
The Tomcats took a 2-0 lead into the halftime locker room.
“Our guys were a little timid to start the game, but they stood up and got the defense off the field,” said Stone coach John Feaster.
Offensive fireworks started going off when the teams returned for the third quarter.
Stone fumbled on the kickoff return and, while video clearly showed the ball to be out of bounds, a Moss Point player fell on it and, inexplicably, the officials awarded the Tigers the ball.
Four plays later, Moss Point scored and then converted a successful onside kick and, five plays later, scored again. The Tigers were successful on both 2-point conversions and held a 16-2 lead.
Then, the Tomcats’ offense came to life.
Carlos Brown broke free over the left side and went 47 yards for a touchdown and Clint Ryals’ PAT was good.
The Tigers fumbled at their own 22-yard line on the first play of their ensuing possession and C.C. Herrien recovered the ball at the 18.
Three plays later, Brown had scored again, Ryals kicked the extra point and, with less than five minutes gone off the third-quarter clock, 30 points had been scored and the teams were tied, 16-16.
The teams then traded a couple of possessions which resulted in either a turnover on downs or punts before Brown capped off a 70-yard Stone drive with an 11-yard touchdown run with 6:43 remaining in the game to give the Tomcats a 23-16 lead.
The Tigers responded quickly, going 56 yards in four plays as Ruben Lee hit Larry Simmons with a 5-yard touchdown pass.
The Tigers went for a 2-point conversion and the lead and Lee lofted an improbable pass across the field to the left rear corner of the end zone and his receiver dove and somehow came up with the ball.
Brown then carried the ball on seven of the next eight plays and came up 1-yard short on fourth-and-3 and the Tomcats turned the ball over, allowing the Tigers to go into victory formation and run out the clock.
Brown finished with 268 yards and three touchdowns on 40 carries.
He finished the season with 1,552 yards and 19 touchdowns.
“It’s hard to believe he’s just a sophomore,” Feaster said.
The Tomcats finished the season 3-7 while the Tigers are now 5-6 and will travel to Newton County for the second round.