MHSAA STATE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS: Swanigan leads Starkville past Petal for 6A title

Published 5:58 am Sunday, December 6, 2015

Andre Swanigan ran for three touchdowns, A.J. Brown set a single-season school record for receptions, and Starkville claimed the MHSAA Class 6A state title with a 27-7 win over Petal on Friday at Ole Miss’ Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

“We played well all year,” said Starkville first-year coach Ricky Woods, who coached at Northwest Mississippi Community College from 2008-2012. “We really got better, and that’s what you’ve got to do. The kids like each other. They play together well.”

Brown, the Yellowjackets’ star wideout, caught 10 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown — all in the first half — loosening up Petal’s defense for Swanigan to operate. Swanigan ran for a game-high 161 yards on 24 carries, helping Starkville (14-1) claim its first state championship since 2012.

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Swanigan ran for two of his scores in the first half as Starkville built a 21-7 halftime lead and rarely allowed Petal (10-5) to threaten. Swanigan added a 1-yarder with 7:22 left in the third quarter to extend the lead.

Petal’s only score came on Sam Hopper’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Nigel Wood with Starkville up 21-0 in the second quarter. The Panthers mustered just 219 yards and turned it over four times.

“They’re really, really fast, and they’re well-coached,” Petal coach Marcus Boyles said. “There’s no weak links of that defense.”

Bassfield 39, East Webster 20

Bassfield scored the first five touchdowns and cruised to its fourth straight 2A championship with a win over East Webster on Friday afternoon.

Five different Yellowjackets ran for a score as Bassfield (15-2) piled up 341 rushing yards. Kevin McNair’s 9-yard run with 3:27 left in the third quarter put Bassfield up 33-0. Ron Thompson led the Yellowjackets with 97 yards on 16 carries while Sanchez Berry carried just three times for 89 yards and a score.

Timothy Arnold threw just 13 passes for Bassfield, completing seven of them for 86 yards and a score. Jack Wilson threw a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns and ran for another for East Webster (14-3), which had just 204 yards of offense.

Simmons 25, Resurrection Catholic 9

Chandler Robinson threw three touchdown passes, Marquez Pam ran for another, and Simmons took down Resurrection Catholic for the 1A title in a matchup of unbeatens Friday.

Simmons (12-0) repeatedly used the big play to pull away in a game that featured eight turnovers. Robinson’s scoring tosses covered 17, 51 and 36 yards, his final one going to Mississippi State commit Nero Nelson to give the Blue Devils a 19-3 lead with 1:32 left in the third quarter, before Pam, who finished with 92 rushing yards, ripped off a 44-yard scoring scamper in the fourth.

Simmons’ defense clamped down on Resurrection (13-1) as the Eagles finished with just 95 total yards. Patrick Watts scored their only touchdown on an 11-yard run late in the fourth quarter.

Collins 34, Charleston 32

Calvin Keys returned a kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown, and Detric Hawthorne’s successful two-point pass pushed Collins past Charleston for its second straight 3A title in a thrilling rematch Saturday.

Collins (15-1), which rallied for an overtime win over Charleston for the championship a season ago, overcame a 20-point halftime deficit with 28 fourth-quarter points. Ahmad Alexander gave Charleston (13-3) a 32-26 lead with a 5-yard touchdown run with 28 seconds left before Keys’ ensuing return and Hawthorne’s winning conversion.

Hawthorne ran for three scores and threw another to Keys, who finished with 171 all-purpose yards. Craig Buckley had two rushing touchdowns for Charleston while Billy Kimble also ran for a score.

Noxubee Co. 44, St. Stanislaus 23

Timorris Conner threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns, leading Noxubee County to its third 4A championship in four years over St. Stanislaus on Saturday.

Conner’s scoring tosses covered 14, 48, 31 and 20 yards as the Tigers (12-4) scored the game’s first 25 points and cruised from there. Noxubee County beat St. Stanislaus (11-4) in the title game for the second straight year.

Ladaveon Smith and Jeffrey Simmons each added touchdown runs for the Tigers while Kyziah Pruitt returned a fumble 97 yards to highlight a strong defensive performance for Noxubee County.

Myles Brennan had 268 yards passing and two touchdown passes for St. Stanislaus, but the quarterback was under constant pressure as the Tigers racked up seven sacks and 10 tackles for loss.