Final Stats (PDF)
HATTIESBURG — The nation’s longest high school football winning streak is over.
Behind the duo of Shia Moore and Donovan Turner, Nanih Waiya knocked off Simmons 21-18 to claim the MHSAA Class 1A state championship and snapped the Blue Devils 54-game winning streak at Southern Miss’ M.M. Roberts Stadium on Friday night.
A late Simmons turnover and a pair of goal-line stands proved to be the difference for the Warriors.
It is Nanih Waiya’s (15-1) first state championship in school history.
“Our backs were against the wall a lot in this game and our guys never got down. The kids told me they had it and they performed well. The defense did excellent,” said Nanih Waiya coach James Courtney. “Simmons puts so much pressure on you with their speed and our defensive line did a good job getting pressure and playing with a lot of passion.”
After trailing 18-14 at halftime, Nanih Waiya would score their only touchdown in the second half on a 34-yard halfback pass play from Shia Moore to Coley Taylor with 7:01 left in the third quarter to take a 21-18 lead.
On the next drive, Simmons reached the Nanih Waiya 1-yard line but stalled thanks to a false start penalty, two run plays for no gain, and a pass that went for one yard. The Blue Devils turned the ball over on downs at the Warrior 6-yard line.
In the fourth quarter the Blue Devils again would march down to the Warrior 3-yard line but a fumble on a reverse was recovered by Nanih Waiya’s Shia Moore at the Warrior 6-yard line.
With 2:27 left in the game, Nanih Waiya’s Austin Sanders would intercept a Tyderius Gipson pass on a corner route to seal it for the Warriors.
“I saw the ball in the air and just knew I had to catch it to secure the game,” Sanders said. “I knew it was going to be a corner route and I just jumped it and made the play.”
Donovan Turner and Shia Moore each had rushing touchdowns for Nanih Waiya.
Turner would rush for 144 yards on 28 carries with the touchdown and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
“We just decided to put it on the backs of the offensive line and let them carry the load. They did,” Courtney said. “It is so incredible to bring a state championship back to Nanih Waiya. Our community has been hungry and we’ve been so close and glad we got it.”
Tyderius Gipson would go 10-of-18 for 238 yards with a touchdown to lead the Simmons offense.
C.J. Williams and Aaron Davis each had rushing touchdowns for the Blue Devils (14-1).
“I put this one on me. I didn’t do my job of calling the right plays,” said Simmons coach Timothy Johnson. “Hats off to Nanih Waiya. They had a great game plan and both teams played great.”