Brayden Bond’s tackle of Stephon Harden on a 2-point conversion with 3:20 left in the game sealed a 21-20 Pearl River victory over Franklin Parish in a Class 4A first-round playoff game.
“I ran down the line and he tried to stiff-arm me” Bond said of the conversion try. “I just pulled him to the ground. Our defense was relentless all night.”
It was the first playoff victory in the Pearl River history and the first playoff game the Rebels have hosted since 1997.
“Bond’s an athlete and a very coachable kid,” Pearl River coach Joe Harris said. “Every game we won this year, our defense has played well. Everyone wants to talk about our offense, but defense still wins games.
“We re going to the second round of the playoffs and the kids are excited. It’s been a long time coming."
No. 13 Pearl River (8-2) will travel to play No. 4 Neville of Monroe (9-2) in the second round next Friday.
The Rebels were leading 21-14 when kicker Hunter Martensson missed a 28-yard field goal attempt.
Visiting Franklin Parish of Winnsboro (5-6) took the ensuing possession and drove 80 yards in 11 plays, taking 5:49 off of the clock. Greg Bailey scored his second touchdown of the game on a 4-yard run to cut the lead to 21-20 and set up Bond’s big stop.
The Patriots tried a pooch kick and the Rebels fell on the ball. Pearl River ran the last 3:20 off the clock to seal the victory.
“This is an amazing feeling,” Rebels quarterback Justin Dean said. “We have worked hard the last four years and steadily gotten better. Coach Harris is such a great coach. He’s so high energy.”
The Patriots took the opening possession and drove 92 yards in 13 plays, taking 7:36 off of the clock. Jeremiah Fletcher scored on a 5-yard touchdown run but the 2-point conversion failed to make the score 6-0.
The Rebels were able to grab a 7-6 lead when Corey Warren Jr. scored on a 15 yard touchdown run. Martensson added the first of his three extra points with 3:21 left in the first half.
Franklin Parish drove inside the Rebels 10-yard line in the finals seconds of the half, but Robert Bosch came up with a huge sack to push the Patriots back to the 14. On the next play, a fourth-down pass was incomplete and the Rebels took over with nine seconds to go until halftime.
Pearl River took the second-half kickoff and drove 66 yards in eight plays. Dean scored on a 5-yard touchdown run to make the score 14-6.
Bailey scored on a 4-yard run and Ricky Kelly ran in the 2-point conversion to tie the game 14-14.
The Rebels regained the lead at 21-14 on Warren’s second touchdown of the game, this time from 4 yards out with 43 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Warren finished the game with 84 yards rushing on 23 carries. Dean added 55 yards on 11 carries as the Rebels amassed 208 yards rushing and 247 total yards.
Fletcher led the Patriots with 74 yards rushing. Franklin Parish had 261 yards rushing and 337 total yards of offense.
“I’m proud of my seniors and this team” Franklin Parish coach Whitney McCartney said. “We were picked to finish last in the district. We won five games and made the playoffs. In my opinion, they went out winners.”