Simpson to play for State
The Simpson Cougars traveled Magnolia Heights in Senatobia on Friday, for the semifinals of the MAIS AAAA DII Playoffs. Simpson and Magnolia Heights literally battled for 48 minutes with the Cougars scoring the game winning touchdown on 4th down and goal with .7 seconds left in the game. The win allowed Simpson to advance to the MAIS AAAA DII State Championship game on Thursday, against Lamar School of Meridian at 2:30 p.m. at Jackson Academy.
Simpson received the opening kick and drove to the Magnolia Heights 45 yard line, the drive stalled and were forced to punt. Magnolia Heights drove down to the Simpson 12 yard line, but the Simpson defense held and forced a field goal which was good from 35 yards out by Josh Tyson, with 1:27 to go in the first quarter Magnolia Heights led 3-0. Simpson took their first lead of the game on a Hooks Harvey 1 yard run, the run for the two point conversion was no good and with 9:54 to go in the half Simpson led 6-3. Magnolia Heights answered back quickly on a 43 yard touchdown run by Garrin Windham, the PAT was no good and Magnolia Heights led
9-6. Simpson answered back on a 45 yard kickoff return by Bryce Caughman to the Magnolia Heights 26 yard line. It took the Cougars two plays and Caleb Garner scored from 19 yards out, the PAT by Hooks Harvey was good and with 7:22 left in the half Simpson led 13-9. The lead was retaken by Magnolia Heights when Blake Kirby connected with Garrett Chance from 8 yards out, Magnolia Heights received the second half kickoff and on the third play of the half Hooks Harvey intercepted a pass at the Simpson 49 yard line. The Cougar drive went backwards as they committed several penalties and some negative plays and were forced to punt. Magnolia Heights and Simpson traded punts on their next possessions. Magnolia Heights next possession resulted in a fumble recovered by Austin Creel. Simpson was forced to punt on their next possession. Magnolia Heights ran their one and only play of the fourth quarter a 58 yard touchdown run by Garrin Windham, the PAT by Josh Tyson was good and with 11:37 to go in the game Magnolia Heights led 23-13. The Cougars cut the Magnolia Heights lead to 23-20 with 7:38 to go in the game on a Michael Winstead to Bryce Caughman 20 yard touchdown pass, Hooks Harvey added the PAT. The Cougars kicked an onside kick which was recovered by Preston Franklin. The Cougars drove down to the Magnolia Heights 1 yard line and after three quarterback sneaks were unsuccessful the Cougars called timeout with
3.7 seconds left. The game and the season all hinged on one play and that play was a 1 yard plunge by Caleb Garner, Hooks Harvey added the PAT and with .7 left in the game. The Cougars recovered the ensuing kickoff and the Cougars sealed their trip back to the State Championship game. The win improved Simpson’s record to 10-3 on the season.
The Cougars were led offensively in the rushing game by Michael Winstead with 14 carries for 126 yards, Caleb Garner with 18 carries for 68 yards and two touchdowns, Corbin Hosey 12 carries for 51 yards, and Hooks Harvey 10 carries for 33 yards and a touchdown. In the passing game Michael Winstead had 1 completion for 20 yards and a touchdown and Bryce Caughman had one catch for 20 yards and a touchdown. The Cougars were led on defense by Caleb Garner with 7 tackles, Daniel Pepper 5 tackles, and Thomas Pepper and Michael Winstead 3 tackles each. Getting sacks or tackles for loss were Daniel Pepper with 1. Simpson had four turnovers an interception by Hooks Harvey and fumble recoveries by Austin Creel, Preston Franklin, and Payton Keith.
In team stats Simpson had 291 yards of total offense, 271 rushing yards, 20 passing yards, and picked up 17 first downs. Magnolia Heights had 280 yards of total offense, 272 rushing yards, 8 passing yards, and picked up 14 first downs.
The Cougars will play Lamar School in a rematch of last year’s AAAA DII Championship game won by Lamar 33-32 in OT. Lamar defeated Simpson earlier in the year 38-30. This will be the twenty-fourth time Simpson and Lamar have met on the gridiron, Simpson leads the series 16-7.