Nov. 26—AMORY — Noxubee County stunned Amory on its own turf Friday night to claim the Class 3A North half title and advance to the state championship game.
The Tigers overcame a 21-point deficit in the first quarter and a 14-point deficit in the fourth to force overtime, where they sealed the 52-51 win after a two-point conversion.
"This feels great," Noxubee coach Teddy Young said. "We had a bad year last year, and no one believed in us, but we came back. This group of seniors has played in the state championship game twice, but nobody believed that we could make it back. They believed in me, and I believed in them, and that's all we needed."
The Panthers (11-2) had the Tigers (10-4) in a 21-0 hole after three-straight touchdown runs by Charleston French of 7, 14 and 10 yards. Noxubee got on the scoreboard to start the second after a 5-yard run and a two-point conversion by Lamar Stewart.
Noxubee cut the score down to 21-16 after a 65-yard touchdown completion from Kamario Taylor to Anthony Little. The Tigers went into halftime only down 28-24 after a 19-yard touchdown pass from Taylor to Little.
Stewart gave Noxubee its first lead of the night in the fourth with a 3-yard run to go up 30-28, but Amory's Jatarian Ware responded with a 37-yard touchdown run to give his team a 36-30 lead after the two-point conversion pass from Walker Maranto to Dylan Thompson.
A 14-yard touchdown run by French and a two-point conversion pass helped the Panthers gain a 44-30 lead with 4:33 left in the game.
The Tigers answered with a 1-yard touchdown run by Stewart and a 6-yard touchdown completion from Stewart to Little, tying the game up at 44-44 with 10 seconds left.
Amory scored on its first play of overtime on a 10-yard run by Ware, but Noxubee responded with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Dequadrion Welch to Taylor. Quantarrion Harrington sealed the victory on a two-point conversion pass to Ahmad Hairston.
"I told my senior linebacker that the choice was his to throw it or run it on that last two-point conversion, and he made the right decision," Young said.
Noxubee will head to Hattiesburg next Friday to take on Raleigh.
Turning Point: Stewart found Little on a 6-yard touchdown completion in the fourth to force overtime.
Point Man: Stewart finished the game with 62 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the win.
Talking Point: "Hats off to Noxubee County. They made one more play, and that's what you've got to do if you want to play for a state championship." — Amory coach Brooks Dampeer