Big plays and a dominant defense in the second half put the Purvis Tornadoes in the driver’s seat as they downed Lamar County rival, Sumrall, 28-17 in the Battle of 589.
Some may have expected Purvis to run away with the game, but with the return of the Bobcats’ sophomore quarterback John Ford, the Sumrall offense looked sharp early on.
Ford started the first two games of the season for Sumrall, before exiting the next four games due to an injury. His presence on the field provided much-needed relief for the Bobcats early in the game.
Although Ford gave Sumrall some life, it was big plays from Purvis and a second half dominant defense that proved too much for Sumrall to handle.
Sumrall jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter as Ford found a wide open Hayden Barrett up the middle for a 37-yard touchdown pass on just the sixth play of the game putting the score at 7-0 with 9:33 remaining in the first quarter.
Purvis only needed two plays to try and match Sumrall’s lead with a 59-yard touchdown run by running back Ty Badon. The Tornadoes’ two-point conversion attempt was stopped short and Sumrall maintained a 7-6 lead with 8:33 remaining in the first quarter.
An onside kick by Purvis led to the Tornadoes recovering the ball on their own 49-yard line. Seven plays later quarterback Hunter Robinson found wide receiver Jesse Johnson for a 42-yard touchdown pass. The Tornadoes added a successful two-point conversion, extending their lead to 14-7 with 3:38 remaining in the first quarter.
Sumrall put together a 12-play drive, capping it off with a 24-yard field goal by Brycen Smith and narrowing the lead to 14-10 with 9:33 left in the second quarter.
After forcing Purvis to a four-and-out on their next possession, Sumrall took the lead with a touchdown run by Carson Duck from five yards out. Duck was met at the goal line and with the help of five of his teammates, the running back muscled his way in. The touchdown gave Sumrall its first and only lead of the ball game with 8:41 remaining in the half.
On its next possession, Purvis marched down the field with Kaden Wines getting the call on the eight-yard line. Wines took the handoff up the middle, fumbling out the back of the end zone. After a referee review, it was determined that Vines had crossed the goal line before the fumble. This boosted the Tornadoes lead to 21-17 going into the half.
During the half, Purvis Coach Brad Hankins addressed the changes his team needed to close out the close ballgame.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to stop them and slow them down,” Hankins said. “John Ford is a great football player. He makes a difference and we’ve got to try and contain him. We figured it would be a good ball game for sure.”
With 47 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Robinson found Johnson on a four-yard touchdown pass, marking their second connection of the night and giving the 6’4” receiver five catches for 90 yards and two scores.
That touchdown would be enough for the Tornadoes to close out the game as the defense would hold Sumrall’s offense to just 15 yards of total offense in the second half.
Ford, the Bobcats’ quarterback, would leave the game midway through the fourth quarter with a hand injury.
Hankins was pleased that his halftime message was heard loud and clear. Now his team is focused on the next game at hand.
“We made some adjustments at half and I thought our kids came out and focused the final two quarters,” Hankins said. “We had some great plays defensively, matched with a lot of effort. This is just another step in where our goals are. We are hungry and we can’t be satisfied. We’ve got a big game in Poplarville, that played for a state championship last year, and now our focus is on them.”
Things are looking good for the Tornadoes as the win marks their fifth in a row. They now sit at 5-3, after starting the year winless in their first three games.
The Sumrall loss brings their record to 3-6 on the year.