Photo by Bobby McDuffie

By Robert Wilson

Brandon junior quarterback Landon Varnes doesn’t have any college offers yet, but if he continues to play like he did Friday night, they will be coming soon.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Varnes passed for a career-high 349 yards and two touchdowns and led Brandon to a 34-31 victory over previously undefeated Ocean Springs in the MHSAA Class 6A state semifinals Friday night at Hugh Pepper Field in Ocean Springs.

For his outstanding performance in this important game, Varnes has been named the Junction Deli Metro Jackson Football Player of the Week.

Varnes completed 18 of 26 passes, 69.2 percent, and completed two TD passes of 45 and 80 yards to senior wide receiver and Akron (Ohio) commitment Lester Miller. Varnes took Brandon on the winning drive in the final 26 seconds when he completed a 27-yard screen pass and run to sophomore Quincy Phillips and a 25-yard pass to Miller to set up senior kicker Will Elliott’s 29-yard game-winning field goal on the last play of the game.

Varnes got the win and had more yards than the more publicized senior quarterback from Ocean Springs, reigning Class 6A Player of the Year and Alabama commitment Brayson Hubbard, who finished with 214 rushing and passing yards and one rushing TD.

“Landon had a great game,” Brandon coach Sam Williams said. “He is a tremendous football player. Landon hung in there and took some shots for the team. He is the ultimate competitor and will do anything to help this team win a game. Landon has matured a ton and developed into one of the top quarterbacks in the state. He did a phenomenal job of getting his teammates involved and pushing the ball downfield Friday night. Landon hit a number of chunk plays down the field that changed the game. Our players wouldn’t trade him for another quarterback around.” 

Photo by Bobby McDuffie

“If we were drafting for foxholes, Landon would be the first one taken,” Brandon offensive coordinator Wyatt Rogers said. “He’s probably one of the toughest kids I’ve ever coached. Landon has gotten better every week – not only in his accuracy and mechanics but also understanding the game and its finer points.”

Varnes has completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 3,066 yards and 24 TDs this season. He has passed for 300 yards three times this season, 349 against Ocean Springs, 328 against Terry and 326 against Pearl.

Brandon, 12-1, meets Starkville, 11-3 and a 41-32 winner over previously undefeated Tupelo in the semifinals, for the 6A state title Saturday at 7 p.m. at Southern Miss’ M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg. It is Brandon’s second straight 6A state title game appearance. The Bulldogs lost to Madison Central 24-17 last season.