HATTIESBURG — A heavyweight 6A match-up came down to Horn Lake needing just one last stop. And they got it.
Drew Leverson would intercept a John Rhys Plumlee pass at the Horn Lake 20-yard line to seal a 31-27 thrilling victory for the Eagles over Oak Grove to claim the MHSAA Class 6A State Championship at Southern Miss’ M.M. Roberts Stadium on Friday night. The win capped an undefeated season.
It is Horn Lake’s (15-0) first state title in school history.
“We just tried to get pressure on Plumlee and Drew was able to a make big play for us,” said Horn Lake coach Brad Boyette. “Plumlee is a great football player and he showed it tonight. This group was a special group and they did all they could to be a champion. Bringing back a state championship to Horn Lake is phenomal to our community and our school.”
Quarterback Raydarious Jones finished 10-of-15 passing for 175 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for 83 yards on 19 carries to lead the Eagle offense, earning the game’s Most Valuable Player honors.
“I just had to stay calm and keep playing the next play and overcome adversity,” Jones said. “In the first half we were able to run the ball, but in the second half we couldn’t. I told the guys at halftime we got to dig deep and have to want this game and the guys backed me up and pulled it out.”
Oak Grove would take a 20-17 lead with 2:29 left in the second quarter on a 55-yard touchdown pass from John Rhys Plumlee to Kevin Barnett.
Horn Lake would retake the lead off a fumble on a 51-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Octavius Williams with 3:53 left in the third quarter.
The Warriors would answer back and take a 27-24 lead when Plumlee found Barnett again on a 15-yard touchdown pass with 2:24 left in the third quarter.
The only scoring in the fourth came when Gilliam scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 7:19 remaining to give Horn Lake a 31-27 lead.
Oak Grove would get the ball to the Horn Lake 47-yard line with a minute and a half left. A Plumlee deep pass was intercepted by Leverson.
“In the first half we were able to run the ball, but in the second half they crowded the box and we just tried to take control of the game,” Boyette said. “Our best defense tonight was when Plumlee was on the sideline. We just tried to shorten the game as much as we could.”
Plumlee, a Georgia commit, finished 18-of-34 for 348 yards with four touchdowns to lead the Oak Grove offense.
Kevin Barnett had six catches for 132 with two touchdowns for the Warriors (12-3).
“John Rhys is by far the best player and the best kid I’ve been around, and I couldn’t trade him for anything. He did all he could,” said Oak Grove Drew Causey. “We gave them a couple of short fields tonight and they capitalized on it and we just didn’t make enough plays tonight.”