CLINTON — MRA quarterback Philip Short picked the right game to have the game of his life.
Short would total six touchdowns to help lead MRA over Jackson Prep 48-33 in the all-Patriot matchup to claim the MAIS Class 6A state championship at Mississippi College’s Robinson-Hale Stadium on Saturday night.
It is MRA’s (12-2) third state title overall and first since 2004. This is the first time since 1999 a school other than Jackson Prep or Jackson Academy won the football state title in the MAIS’ highest classification. The win also snapped Jackson Prep’s streak of seven straight state championships.
“The kids worked their tails off to get to this point and they didn’t quit tonight. Hopefully this is the first state title of more to come,” said MRA coach Herbert Davis. “It is a great feeling to finally win it because we’ve come a long way and it’s good to see our kids know they can win a championship.”
Short would finish the night 28-40 passing for 593 yards with five touchdowns and also had a 6-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter.
“We came out of the locker room at halftime and I just knew we had a chance if we kept fighting and kept playing. We were not leaving without that trophy,” Short said. “Guys stepped up and made plays. This is my senior year, so I’m going out with a bang.”
The difference in the game was the third quarter.
Jackson Prep held a 27-21 lead at halftime but MRA would outscore Prep 20-0 in the third period to go up 41-27.
The first score came on 30-yard pass from Short to Tyler Starnes to tie the game at 27 with 8:02 left.
After MRA blocked a field goal, Short found Colorado commit Joe Perkins on a 54-yard touchdown pass to take the lead at 34-27 with 3:34 left. That was the second touchdown pass between the two.
Then Short found Starnes on a 72-yard score with 2:28 left to extend the lead to 41-27.
In the fourth quarter, Short found Ross Sceroler on a 41-yard score to extend the lead 48-27 with 7:59 left.
“They were blitzing a lot and playing man to man and the offensive line did a great job protecting. The receivers did a great job making plays,” Davis said. “We took what the defense gave us and that was the one on ones on the outside.”
Riley Maddox had 136 yards passing with two touchdowns and a rushing touchdown to lead Jackson Prep. Matt Jones had 97 yards rushing and had a 34-yard touchdown run and a 33-yard touchdown catch to give Prep a 19-7 lead with 1:30 left in the first quarter.
“We couldn’t get going in third quarter and they had momentum and the things we had to do we didn’t do,” said Jackson Prep head coach Ricky Black. “Short was very accurate and got the ball to his receivers and we couldn’t get to him and couldn’t stop the big play. We had a small senior class this year and the guys we got coming back can build off this frustration and learn from it next year.”