Leading by one point and Scotlandville going for an onside kick with a little more than a minute to play, Mandeville linebacker Johnathan Picone had flashbacks to his sophomore season when the Skippers had to stop John Ehret in a similar situation.
They didn’t and Picone has lived with that game haunting him for the past three years.
But after Friday night’s 42-41 win over No. 5 Scotlandville, the senior is finally able to put that memory to rest.
The Skippers, led by Picone, came up with a goal-line stand on what would have been a potential game-winning, two-point conversion on the road. Mandeville crowded the line and stopped Scotlandville running back Marcus Stokes in his tracks, effectively sealing the upset for No. 12 Mandeville and a trip to the quarterfinals of the Class 5A playoffs.
“I just remember thinking, ‘We really need to make this play. What poetic justice for us to make this play and win this game finally after three years,” Picone said. “It’s just a monkey off my back.”
Stokes had previously set up the Hornets to make the comeback on a 7-yard run up the middle after taking over possession at the Mandeville 43-yard line with three minutes left to play.
Scotlandville coach Robert Valdez said he wanted to put his faith in his offense on the conversion attempt and decide the game there and then.
“We decided to play for the win and put it on my lineman,” Valdez said. “We just came up a little short.”
The teams traded blows for most of the night, with Mandeville’s eight-point lead late in the game being the largest margin of the night.
The Skippers jumped ahead of the Hornets for the final time with about nine minutes to play when quarterback Cody Orgeron evaded pressure in the pocket to find Connor Lockhart in the end zone on an 8-yard pass.
Orgeron finished the game with 223 yards and three touchdowns on 21 for 28 passing and three touchdowns. He also added another score on the ground.
“I rolled out and saw the defender trailing him and I just threw it up,” Orgeron said. “Hat’s off to Connor, he made a heck of a catch and made me look good.”
Defensively, despite giving up its second highest point total of the season, the Skippers consistently contained quarterback Levi Lewis and the Scotlandville offense, never allowing them to gain much of a rhythm.
The Hornets relied mostly on big plays to put points on the board, including touchdown passes of 65 and 79 yards and eight plays of 15 or more yards.
Possibly their most effective drive of the night was its first, when Lewis led them down the field for a 13-play, 96-yard drive capped by running back Trenton Charles’ 5 yard run up the middle.
Lewis finished the game with 290 yards on 16 for 26 passing while Charles chipped in 104 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
“Good lord blessed us,” Mandeville coach Guy LeCeompte said. “Our kids played hard and they executed.”