The West Lowndes High School football team was unable to stop the ferocious rushing attack of Bay Springs on Friday night, leading a 44-6 loss in the MHSAA Class 1A semifinals.
Each team was forced to punt on its first drive, and the Bulldogs were the first to get into goal-to-go position. But that drive ended on a fumble by running back Ty Jones at the West Lowndes 2-yard line, the only mistake Jones made all night.
Neither team was able to get on the scoreboard in the first quarter, as this game was beginning to feel
like it was going to be a knock-down, drag-out defensive battle.
Bay Springs struck first, as Jones ran it in from 14 yards with 2:23 left in the half to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead.
West Lowndes came out looking to run a two-minute offense, but the Bulldogs intercepted quarterback Fredrick Rice to get the ball in great field position.
They marched down the field, with Jones scoring his second touchdown of the contest from the 1-yard line. Bay Springs took a 14-0 lead into halftime.
“We didn’t execute,
so we’ll get it fixed in the second half,” Panthers coach Anthony King said of his offense, and on the first drive of the second half, it appeared that the Panthers had corrected those mistakes.
They came out throwing much more to open the second half, moving the ball down the field
into striking distance, where Rice rushed into the end zone from 5 yards away to put West Lowndes on the scoreboard. With 9:47 to go in the third quarter, Bay Springs led 14-6.
The turning point came on a third-and-4 with Bay Springs on the West Lowndes 45. Running back Anthony Ross found a hole in the defense and left the Panthers behind for a 45-yard touchdown.
Ross added another long touchdown on Bay Springs’ next drive, this one from 58 yards, to give the Bulldogs a 30-6 lead. Ross finished with 186 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
West Lowndes was unable to muster anything else on offense, as Bay Springs continued to dominate.
Jones added one more touchdown to his total late in the third quarter, this one from 37 yards, as Bay Springs took a 36-6 lead at the end of the third quarter. Jones finished with 171 rushing yards and three touchdowns, as the two-headed rushing attack was too much for the Panthers.
The final touchdown of the game came with 4:37 to go, as strong safety Jamare Holiday recovered a
fumble and ran it into the end zone for the only defensive touchdown of the contest, giving Bay Springs
the 44-6 lead that closed the scoring.
Rice finished with 55 yards rushing and 51 yards passing, along with the one touchdown, for the Panthers, who finish the season 10-3, their first 10-win season since 1992.
“I’m proud of our guys for battling all year,” King said. “(We) had a lot of adversity, but they kept battling, and we can just build from this.”
“The kids have worked hard,” Bulldogs coach Dan Bailey said. “We executed a lot better in the second half….an ugly win is a hell of a lot better than a pretty loss.”
Bay Springs will face off against Simmons in the 1A state championship at 3 p.m. Friday in Hattiesburg on the Southern Miss campus.
Bay Springs 44, West Lowndes 6
Bay Springs (11-1) 0 14 22 8 — 44
West Lowndes (10-3) 0 0 6 0 — 6
BS — Ty Jones 14 run (pass failed), 2:23
BS — Jones 1 run (Jones run), 0:53
WL — Frederick Rice 5 run (run failed), 9:47
BS — Anthony Ross 45 run (Jones run), 6:16
BS — Ross 58 run (Jones run), 3:36
BS — Jones 37 run (run failed), 1:50
BS — Jamare Holiday 1 fumble return (Malaki Page run), 4:37