Loyd Star clinches Region 7-2A title with Possum bowl win

Published 11:30 pm Friday, October 13, 2023

The 2023 Possum Bowl delivered another thrilling finish in the Lincoln County rivalry between  Loyd Star and Bogue Chitto.

Senior kicker Cooper Reid booted through a 17-yard field goal as time expired on Friday to set off a huge celebration amongst the Loyd Star fans as those points were the game winner in a 23-21 victory for Reid and his fellow Hornets.

There is a good chance that you were in attendance as it looked like half the county had turned out to see a game full of storylines.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The contest was the first played on Loyd Star’s new football field. The facility sits north of the baseball field on the back side of the campus and there was doubt before the season if it would be ready for play this year.

It was also the last home game, the one where you recognize seniors prior to kickoff and more important than anything, it was a key region matchup after Loyd Star went on the road last week and beat Amite County.

With a point-differential tie breaker coming into play, the Hornets could have technically retained first place in the division, even with a loss, depending on the final score.

The Possum Bowl is played for the Possum Bowl trophy though and first year Loyd Star head coach Adam Smith and his crew wanted to win the region and bring the trophy back to their school.

The 2022 Possum Bowl was also played at Loyd Star and also came down to a game ending kick, but that one was an extra point in overtime that gave Bogue Chitto a 17-16 overtime win.

On Friday, Loyd Star never led until the final play of the game.

The Bobcats went ahead 7-0 with 4:03 remaining in the first quarter when senior running back Easton Sartin scored from the one-inch line. The drive had been a grinding one that started the game and ate up a ton of time while BC retained possession.

Runs by Sartin, quarterback Jax Leggett and freshman Jayden Poole were the formula dialed up by BC head coach and play caller Gareth Sartin.

Loyd Star countered with an equally positive first offensive possession that saw Smith, who also calls the offensive plays for the Hornets, setting up runs by freshman quarterback Jordyn Kees and senior fullback Jaden Lea.

Kees jumped over the line for a 1-yard touchdown run, but too many men on the field forced the PAT kick to be moved back on that penalty and it was blocked to keep Bogue Chitto up 7-6 with 12 seconds left in the first quarter.

The teams then traded turnovers as Bogue Chitto threw an interception, but later got the ball back via a Loyd Star fumble.

With 25 seconds left until halftime, Leggett sprinted out into the flats and found a wide-open receiver, Poole, in the back of the south endzone. Andrew Merrell made the PAT kick and the Bobcats went into the break with a 14-6 lead.

Loyd Star received the ball to start the second half as Kees and his offensive line began to click. Kees scored on a 25-yard run around the left side of the formation, but the PAT attempt was again spoiled by a penalty and Loyd Star trailed 14-12 with 9:36 left in the third quarter.

Bogue Chitto went back to its passing attack on the next series and Leggett threw a ball up that 6-foot-4 junior receiver Noah Magee went up over the top of a defensive back to bring down.

Merrill notched the PAT kick and Bogue Chitto extended the lead back out to 21-12 with 5:33 left in the third quarter.

The score stayed there until 7:41 remained in the game. That’s when Kees took a snap and then handed the ball off to running back Omarion Clay on a reverse. Clay cut the ball back in the opposite direction of the entire BC defense and raced in for a 20-yard touchdown.

The 2-point conversion was another Kees run, this one where it looked like he would be tackled for a loss, but with his legs still pumping, Kees was able to fall across the goal line to cut the Bogue Chitto advantage to 21-20.

The Loyd Star defense played its most inspired possession of the game after that, forcing the first Bogue Chitto punt of the night with four minutes remaining.

Depth in the skills positions has been a strength of Bogue Chitto all season, but the Bobcats had players going down late with injuries. Poole missed much of the final quarter after going down and Randy Crisler left the game early with a lower leg injury.

Senior Ken May also had to be escorted to the sideline at least once during the game and senior offensive lineman Marshall Hart played much of the contest with a noticeable limp.

You could see momentum start to shift as the packed home section of the new grandstands started to envision a game ending drive that would result in a game winning kick.

And that’s exactly how things played out as Lea carried the ball down to the BC 13-yard line with 21 seconds left and then Clay got down to the 5-yard line with eight seconds remaining.

The Hornets attempted a pass that went incomplete and set up Reid to take the field and the game winning kick with five seconds remaining on the clock.

“We’ve been preaching all year and all week that we’re not the most talented or the fastest or the strongest or the biggest, but we’ve got a lot of heart and if we play for a full 48 minutes, we’re harder to beat,” said Smith. “We didn’t go in at half time or yell or fuss. We just told them that we knew it would be this type of game and we knew Bogue Chitto was going to give us their full effort and we just had to withstand the storm to come out on top at the end.”

Loyd Star principal Seth Lofton handed the trophy off to Smith and his team as they celebrated the return of it and the toy-like marsupial that sits atop the trophy.

The 2024 Possum Bowl will have to be a wild one to live up to the legacy of 2023.

Loyd Star (7-1) closes region play out next Friday at West Lincoln (2-6). Bogue Chitto (4-4) is off next week before finishing the regular season in two weeks at Wilkinson County (2-6).