By Robert Wilson

Madison Central is going to play in the MHSAA Class 6A state championship game this week for the first time since 1999.

And the Jaguars can thank junior running back Deandre Pullen’s performance for a large part of getting there.

The 5-foot-7, 150-pound Pullen, stepping in for starting injured running back Robert Dumas, had 187 yards and two touchdowns in 21 carries, had a 45-yard kickoff return and also had two tackles as a starting outside linebacker in a 34-13 victory at Starkville in the Class 6A semifinals.

For his outstanding performance, Pullen has been named the Junction Deli/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Football Player of the Week.

Madison Central led Starkville 16-7 at halftime, then Pullen ran for TDs of 6 and 69 yards to push the lead to 31-7 with 2 minutes, 25 seconds to play in the third quarter.

Pullen also replaced Dumas and gained 141 yards and scored one TD on 17 carries in a 31-21 victory over Oxford in the 6A quarterfinals two weeks ago. Pullen has 982 yards and 15 TDs on 122 carries and 42 tackles, 4 for loss, 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles this season.

“Deandre is just a football player,” first-year Madison Central coach Toby Collums said. “Wherever you put him, he’s going to make plays. He has done a great job at outside linebacker and he’s playing well at running back. Deandre plays at a high level.”

Madison Central, 12-1, meets Brandon, 11-2 and winners of 11 straight games since a 42-19 loss to Madison Central, for the 6A state title Friday at 7 p.m. at Southern Miss in Hattiesburg. Madison Central had lost nine consecutive times in the semifinals since winning the title in 1999.