Rockets finish season with 32-29 loss to Ridgeland in 5A playoffs

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The Neshoba Central Rockets’ 2020 football season came to an end as they dropped a 32-29 loss to Ridgeland in the third round of the Class 5A playoffs Friday night.

Neshoba Central finished the season with a 9-2 record. Ridgeland, now 10-2, will advance to the North State finals next Friday when the Titans host West Point. West Point defeated Grenada 28-14 to advance.

It was a hard-fought game with seven lead changes.

Ridgeland took the opening kickoff. Three plays into the game, Zy McDonald had the Titans on the scoreboard as he ran 54 yards for a touchdown. The try for two failed and Ridgeland led 6-0 with 10:40 left in the first quarter.

It didn’t take the Rockets long to answer. Two plays after the kickoff, Jarquez Hunter ran 61 yards for a touchdown. Hunter Bavetta kicked the extra point and Neshoba Central led 7-6 with 10:17 after the first quarter.

The Titans took the kickoff and put together a 10-play drive that ended when McDonald connected with Richard May on a seven-yard TD pass play. McDonald ran in the two point conversion and Ridgeland led 14-7.

That’s how it stood until Donovan Bell scored for the Titans on a three-yard run. The try for two failed and Ridgeland led 20-7 with 8:29 left in the second quarter.

Two plays later, Hunter got the Rockets back in the game when he ran 55 yards for a touchdown. Bavetta kicked the extra point and the Titans trailed 20-14 with 8:29 left in the second quarter.

Later in the second quarter, Rocket quarterback Eli Anderson connected with Hunter on a 26-yard TD pass play. Bavetta’s kick was good and the Rockets went in front 21-20 with 1:53 left in the half.

The first half wasn’t over. Ridgeland took the kickoff on its 38-yard line and put together an eight-play drive that ended with Ball scoring on a one-yard run. The try for two failed and the Titans led 26-21 going into the half.

Hunter struck again in the third quarter when he completed a 20-yard TD pass to Dagan Martin with 7:20 left in the third quarter. Hunter ran in the two point conversion and the Rockets led 29-26.

McDonald completed an 11-yard TD pass to May late in the third quarter to put the Titans in front for good. The try for two failed and the Titans held on throughout the fourth quarter to claim the win.

Hunter finished the night with 258 yards rushing on 28 carries. He rushed for two touchdowns, caught one TD pass, and threw for another touchdown.


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