Meridian Star

November 23, 2013

Lamar beats Magnolia Heights in MAIS AAA Division II Championship

Tony Tsoukalas
The Meridian Star

CLINTON — Tired and worn down by a physical running attack, Lamar defensive lineman Jonathan Young challenged his team to make one more play. With the Raiders clinging to a 28-21 lead over Magnolia Heights late in the fourth quarter of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools AAA Division II championship, Young followed up his words by stuffing Chiefs running back Travis Beam on a fourth-and-1 from the Lamar 39-yard line to help clinch the state title for the Lamar.

    “Fourth down, that’s when you really got to dig deep,” Young said. “You may be tired, you may be hurting, but so is everybody else. We knew they had the hurry-up coming, so we just went as hard as we could.”

    The championship is Lamar’s third state title in football and first since 2007.

    “I don’t know if I’ve ever felt as good about a team as I feel about this one,” Lamar head coach Mac Barnes said. “What a great group, I’m just really excited for them.”

    Trailing 21-20 with 9:24 left to play in the game, the Raiders rallied behind receiver Lee Martin. The senior made an acrobatic catch on third-and-11 from the Lamar 29-yard line to keep the drive alive. He later broke open over the middle on second-and-goal from the 5 for the eventual game winning touchdown reception from quarterback Davis Harrison to put Lamar up 26-21 with 5:01 to play. Harrison rolled to his right and found the end zone to convert the two-point attempt and bring the lead to 28-21.

    “I can’t even think right now,” Martin said. “I’m so proud of my team. We played our butts off all night. We didn’t quit.”

    Martin finished the day with nine catches for 75 yards and a touchdown while also adding six carries for 37 yards and a score on the ground. Harrison completed 16-of-25 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 35 yards on nine carries.

    The Raiders lost running back Jackson Turner early in the first quarter as he injured his right leg trying to break a tackle.

    “I really think that losing Jackson helped motivate us to play harder,” Young said. “He has carried the load on offense, so we had to play for him.”

    Tied at 7-7 right before the half, the Raiders committed a personal-foul penalty as time expired giving the Chiefs one untimed play from the Lamar 27-yard line. Magnolia Heights quarterback David Herrington made the Raiders pay when he found Beam on a Hail Mary pass to give the Chiefs a 14-7 lead heading into the break.

    “We let our emotions get the best of us,” Young said. “We were in the game and we freaked out. We just told ourselves at halftime that we just had to calm down. We don’t quit. We hustle, we run and we we don’t ever give up.”

    In the fourth quarter, Lamar linebacker Richard Covington stepped in front of a Herrington pass and ran it 34 yards to the end zone to give the Raiders a 20-14 lead with just over 10 minutes to play. Herrington got redemption three plays later when he broke a 75-yard touchdown run on third-and-17 to put Magnolia Heights up 21-20 with 9:24 to play.

    Lamar finished the season at 11-3 while Magnolia Heights (9-3) suffered a second straight loss in Clinton.

    “There are 1,000 teams in the country that never got this chance,” Young said. “Just getting here was an amazing feeling. I just thank God for my team and the talent He blessed us with. This is the greatest feeling of my life.”