Clinton, Pearl move on to Class 6A title game

Published 10:55 pm Friday, November 25, 2016

The team that sat atop Class 6A for most of the season is one win away from ending it there.

Darius Maberry scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 40-yard run with 2:41 remaining in the game, and Clinton hung on to beat Madison Central 38-34 in the MHSAA Class 6A North State championship game on Friday night.

Clinton (13-1), which was ranked No. 1 in Class 6A for most of the season, will play Pearl (11-3) in the state championship game next Friday at 7 p.m. at Mississippi State’s Davis Wade Stadium.
Pearl beat Petal 24-3 in the South State championship game on Friday.

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It’s just the second championship game appearance for Clinton ever, and first since 2000. It’ll be the first time Pearl has played for a state title since 1985. It’s also the first championship game appearance for a team from the Jackson metro area since Clinton lost to Moss Point in the Class 5A final in 2000.

The last Jackson-area team to win a championship was Madison Central in 1999.

Although Clinton was the favorite to win the Class 6A title all year, it has had to overcome a lot of adversity in the playoffs. After gutting out an overtime win over Warren Central in the quarterfinals, Clinton blew a 15-point lead in the first half against Region 2-6A rival Madison Central (10-4-1), and another three-point lead in the fourth quarter. Madison scored 21 straight points to take the lead after trailing 21-6 early in the second quarter.

“I think this team is built for tough moments like that,” Clinton coach Judd Boswell said. “They’ve done it all year long, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

MC running back Gabe Short rushed for 131 yards and four touchdowns, the last a 3-yarder with 4:53 remaining that put the Jaguars ahead 34-31.

Maberry capped a big night with his 40-yard touchdown run on Clinton’s next drive. Maberry carried the ball 12 times for 132 yards and two touchdowns, and also caught a TD pass, to pick up the slack on a rare off night for quarterback Cam Akers. Akers was 15-of-22 passing for 230 yards, but had just 83 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.

Clinton wide receiver Reginald Landing caught six passes for 112 yards, including a 10-yard reception on the first play of the fourth quarter that set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Akers.
After Maberry’s last touchdown gave the Arrows the lead, they clinched their spot in the championship game with a blunder by Madison Central.

The Jaguars had moved the ball to midfield, where they faced a fourth-and-5 with 1:40 to go. The center snapped the ball early, and it hit quarterback Jack Walker in the thigh. Clinton recovered it at the Madison 45-yard line, and Akers took a couple of knees to run out the clock.

MHSAA Playoffs
Class 6A
Clinton 38, Madison Central 34
Pearl 24, Petal 3
Class 5A
West Point 40, Lake Cormorant 7
Laurel 45, Picayune 27
Class 4A
Lafayette 21, Pontotoc 14
Poplarville 42, Florence 14
Class 3A
Charleston 46, Velma Jackson 17
Kemper County 28, Raleigh 20
Class 2A
Calhoun City 47, Baldwyn 20
Bay Springs 18, Bassfield 13
Class 1A
Simmons 44, Smithville 7
Lumberton 50, Nanih Waiya 48, OT
MHSAA Championship schedule
All games at Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville
Friday, Dec. 2
Class 1A – Simmons vs. Lumberton, 11 a.m.
Class 2A – Calhoun City vs. Bay Springs, 3 p.m.
Class 6A – Clinton vs. Pearl, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 3
Class 3A – Charleston vs. Kemper County, 11 a.m.
Class 4A – Lafayette vs. Poplarville, 3 p.m.
Class 5A – West Point vs. Laurel, 7 p.m.