Porter’s Chapel outlasts Sharkey-Issaquena in battle of MAIS unbeatens

Published 12:44 am Saturday, October 7, 2023

It was fast. It was physical. It was close.

It was everything anyone could want a match-up of undefeated teams to be — especially for Porter’s Chapel Academy, which was still undefeated at the end of the night.

Jase Jung rushed for 210 yards and two touchdowns, and also threw a touchdown pass, as Porter’s Chapel beat Sharkey-Issaquena Academy 44-42 on Friday night.

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PCA improved to 9-0 for its best start since 2008 by handing Sharkey-Issaquena (7-1) its first loss.

“It’s a great win. Those guys are a good football team. I don’t think there’s any doubt they’re one of the best in either class and I think it just gives us confidence,” PCA coach Blake Purvis said. “It shows us we can stack up with whatever we go up against. It didn’t always go our way. We had some bumps, but you have those in big football games and we played through it.”

The game was a defensive slugfest early — the teams combined for only 205 yards in the first half — then quickly escalated into a wild shootout in the third quarter.

Jung broke off a 72-yard run to put PCA ahead 22-16 and start a string of six touchdowns in a span of 2 minutes and 41 seconds.

SIA’s Gary Jackson answered Jung’s long run with a 60-yarder of his own, and then each team returned an onside kick for a touchdown. PCA’s Noah Porter took his 50 yards, and SIA’s Aiden Alen went 55 yards.

Jung scored again, from 17 yards out, and SIA’s J.B. Boykin threw a 19-yard pass to Damarion Stamps with 5:33 remaining. When the blizzard of touchdowns was over, PCA led 36-34.

“That is not a recipe we wanted to get into. We didn’t want to get into a track meet with these guys,” Purvis said. “Thankfully we were able to weather that storm and we were able to go punch-for-punch with them and then settle back in and get back to playing defense and trying to control the line of scrimmage.”

The Eagles punted on their next possession, but a defense that played well all night kept SIA from capitalizing. PCA forced a turnover on downs to end the third quarter, and then Taylor Labarre intercepted Boykin on the Confederates’ next possession.

Labarre finished with a team-high 11 tackles and had two interceptions.

SIA was averaging 55.4 points per game, but its offense only produced 28 on Friday. It scored one touchdown on Allen’s kickoff return and another on a 25-yard interception return by Corderrius Jackson in the first half.

“Our defense did a phenomenal job,” Purvis said. “Those guys are averaging almost 60 points a game. One of those scores was a defensive touchdown and one was a special teams touchdown, so we really held their offense to 28 or 30 points. You can’t ask for anything more than that.”

In between the two late stops, PCA scored a crucial touchdown and two-point conversion to go up by two scores. John Wyatt Massey capped a nearly five-minute drive with his 15-yard TD pass to Labarre, and Ty Mack ran in the two-point conversion to make it 44-34.

Purvis credited offensive linemen Hunter Simms, Conley Johnston and Jackson Blackmon for helping the Eagles grind the clock. They finished with 254 rushing yards and only attempted nine passes in the game. Jung had 26 carries.

“Our offensive line and our lead backs blocking for each other, we really took that game over in the second half with a dominant run performance and we were able to shorten it after we weathered that storm in the third quarter. That ultimately carried us through,” Purvis said.

The extra cushion was needed, since SIA managed to score on a 30-yard pass from Boykin to Gary Jackson with two seconds left — likely enough time for another throw to the end zone if the Confederates could have recovered the ensuing onside kick.

Their kickoff went deep, however. PCA’s Gavin Pugh caught it and ran off the final two seconds before he was tackled to end the game.

“It was hard. This was a tough opponent. On film we were seeing it. They’re fast, they’re physical, they’re big and they showed,” Jung said. “We stepped our game up. We came out in the second half and we were firing on all cylinders and I loved it.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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