Lightning strikes held up the Scotlandville-McKinley rivalry game for nearly an hour Friday at Memorial Stadium. However, the biggest strikes of the night came in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Darion Williams engineered two drives within the game’s final 4:30 to propel the Hornets to a 20-19 come-from-behind win over McKinley. Williams’ final score, a 20-yard strike to running back Dontrell Hilliard, came with 4.8 seconds left in regulation.
“All of the credit goes to them (the assistant coaches),” Scotlandville head coach Eric Randall said. “We went to our big-play guys, our two seniors. We’re just young. I call them the cardiac kids out here. We made so many mistakes out here.”
Williams finished the night with 234 passing yards on 13-of-24 passing with two scoring tosses. He also rushed for 46 yards. Meanwhile, McKinley (0-1) quarterback Travion Alexander finished with three TD passes on 7-for-18 passing with one interception.
It was Williams who capped a 96-yard Scotlandville scoring drive for the Hornets (1-0) midway through the fourth quarter. Scotlandville also got a little help from the Panther defense. McKinley was flagged for roughing the passer as Williams threw an incomplete pass on a third-and-4 inside the Panthers’ 15 at the 5:29 mark. Williams then connected with Jordan Tucker for a 6-yard score three plays later to cut the lead to 19-14 with 4:29 left.
McKinley played keep-away, milking the clock until punting the ball away with one minute left. Scotlandville took over on its own 28.
The Hornets dialed up a screen with Williams finding Delmas Holmes, who scampered into MHS territory with 1:11 left. Williams then hooked up with Chris Johnson for 32 yards, moving SHS to the McKinley 25 with 37.5 seconds left. Two plays later, Williams found Hilliard for a 20-yard TD strike to take the lead with 4.8 seconds left to play.
“I don’t even know what the play was, I’ve got to go back and look at the tape,” Randall said. “I think it was a smash route.”
The Panthers avoided disaster in their first trip into Hornets territory when Alexander hit Brandon Butler on a bubble screen. Scotlandville knocked the ball away from Butler as he cut across the field, but McKinley recovered near the Scotlandville 28. The Panthers made the Hornets pay on the next play as Alexander rainbowed a pass to Hinney Harris in the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown.
“We just gave it up at the end,” McKinley coach Robert Signater said. “We didn’t seal the deal, and that happens to you.”
McKinley gained more momentum late in the second half, forcing Scotlandville to go three-and out and getting the ball back on the Hornets 37-yard line with 1:29 left in the first half. A face mask penalty on a third-and-three play, giving gave MHS a first-and-goal inside the Hornets’ 5 27.8 seconds in the half.
The Panthers cashed in as Alexander connected with Marquise Kaigler for a 4-yard touchdown pass, giving McKinley a 13-0 lead with four seconds left in the first half. Scotlandville Hornets drove 60 yards in the third period, with Holmes scoring on a 9-yard run. 13-7 with 8:27 left in the third quarter.
The Panthers received more gifts in the form of Scotlandville penalties in their first possession of the third. Jaylon Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff to the Panthers’ 45-yard line, and an offsides penalty moved McKinley to midfield. Alexander kept the drive going, stepping up in the pocket and hitting Butler to move the ball to the Scotlandville 17 at the 6:55 mark.
The second Scotlandville penalty of the drive helped McKinley move the ball within the Hornets’ 15-yard line, and Alexander hooked up with Kaigler for a 13-yard touchdown. Kaigler’s second TD grab pushed the Panthers’ lead to 19-7 with 6:20 left to play in the third quarter.