HATTIESBURG — Simmons was undefeated and chasing perfection in the MHSAA 1A championship against Bay Springs at Southern Miss.
The Bulldogs had other plans. Anthony Ross led Bay Springs (12-3) to its first state championship in program history with a 32-12 victory over the Blue Devils (13-1) on Friday.
The junior running back had 20 carries for 219 yards and two touchdowns.
Bay Springs trailed 12-8 at halftime, but coach Dan Brady didn't let the Bulldogs lose confidence in the locker room.
"I just told them to calm down, stick to the plan and just do what we do," Brady said.
"We're not going to change what we do. We are going to make people stop what we do. Sooner or later, we felt like we (had) the advantage. We got the advantage in the second half."
The Bulldogs outscored Simmons 24-0 and held them to 74 total yards in the second half. The Blue Devils scored on a 63-yard punt return from senior Vontrez Rush and a 70-yard run from Devontae Rush.
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Ross got things started with a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:31 left in the third quarter.
"Don't stop and always go harder," Ross said about the halftime message. "Never give up."
The momentum flipped on the following drive for the Blue Devils. A high snap led to a loss of 23-yards and quarterback Devontae Rush was injured on the play.
Backup quarterback Jermaine Edwards tossed his first of two interceptions three plays later.
"That was just huge," Brady said. "We thought we were on the cusp right there."
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Bay Springs answered with a 34-yard touchdown from Ross. Mississippi State commitment Ty Jones had a 24-yard touchdown on the following drive. Jones finished with 18 carries for 73 yards and a touchdown.
"Everybody we play is going to stack up to stop Ty Jones," Brady said. "We know that, and that helps Anthony Ross and that helps Malaki Page. The best thing about all those kids is they're gonna be wearing a Bay Springs jersey again next year."
The Bulldogs ended the season on a 12-game winning streak and held opponents to 12 or fewer points in each game. Bay Springs allowed 18 points in four playoff games.
"We always got to win the turnover battle and not give up big plays," Brady said. "I'm going to be honest with you guys, you take away the punt return and the long run, it's a lot of Bay Springs and not much Simmons."
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Anthony Ross powers Bay Springs to 1st state championship in school history