OXFORD — Mission accomplished, but with some late game drama.
Tylan Knight scored on a 4-yard touchdown run with 1:06 left in the fourth quarter to lift Pearl past Starkville 21-17 to claim the MHSAA Class 6A state championship and cap an undefeated season at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Friday night.
It is the Pirates (16-0) first state championship in school history.
Pearl is the fourth team in Mississippi history to finish a season 16-0. Lafayette did it twice (2010 and 2011) and Noxubee County did it in 2012.
“It meant everything to me for the coach to call my number and have the faith in me to get into the end zone,” Knight said. “In the big moment like that, got to give credit to the lineman. They cleared a huge hole for me to score.”
After Starkville’s Garin Boniol kicked a 34-yard field goal with 3:54 that gave the Yellowjackets a 17-15 lead, the Pirates would go 75 yards on eight plays with Knight getting the game-winning score.
“They had gotten a couple of breaks and we didn’t play at all in the first half. In the second half we came out and played better,” said Pearl coach John Perry. “We challenged them and our guys fought to the bitter end. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Knight finished the game with 35 yards rushing and also had nine solo tackles on defense.
“It was a no-brainer who we were giving the ball to with the game on the line,” Perry said. “What a great team player he is and someone is going to get a special player in Tylan Knight.”
Mississippi State wide receiver commit Johnquarise Patterson had 13 catches with 119 yards to lead Pearl and was named the games Most Valuable Player.
Johnny Winston had a 5-yard touchdown run and Kedarius Evans had a 35-yard touchdown catch for the Pirates.
“It is unbelievable. I am so proud of our team,” Perry said. “When you’re from Pearl like I am, this means a lot.”
Rodrigues Clark had 175 yards rushing with two touchdowns to lead Starkville (13-3).