Photo by Brad Bridges

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Madison-Ridgeland Academy
Thompson Addison, pllc
Deviney Equipment / Deviney Rental & Supply
Pinestraw of Mississippi
Belle Meade Family Dental
Bank of England Mortgage – Mississippi
The Tire Depot of Byram
The Rogue
Stubblefield, Yelverton, & Van Uden, PLLC
Mccraney Montagnet Quin & Noble PLLC

By Robert Wilson
Photos by Robert Smith, Will Smith and Brad Bridges

       MADISON – Madison-Ridgeland Academy celebrated a special Senior Night Friday night here at MRA’s BankPlus Stadium and three seniors – quarterback John White, running back Charles Simpson and wide receiver Ben Horner – made it an even more of a night to remember.

       White passed for 365 yards and three touchdowns, Simpson ran for 130 yards and four TDs and a 2-point conversion and Horner caught seven passes for 135 yards and one TD and a 2-point conversion and MRA scored the final 22 points for a come-from-behind, 50-44 victory over defending MAIS Class 6A state champion Jackson Prep in overtime in a wild finish in a conference game with a combined total of more than 1,000 yards of offense before an estimated 3,000.

       MRA improved to 7-3 overall and 3-1 in conference play and clinches a No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the 6A state playoffs. Prep dropped to 7-3 overall and 2-2 in conference play and will be the No. 3 seed and play No. 6 seed Madison St. Joseph in the first round of the playoffs in two weeks.

       Prep led 44-28 when junior defensive back Major Quin caught a deflected pass and returned it 24 yards for a TD with 4 minutes, 5 seconds to play in the third quarter. But MRA roared back to score two touchdowns and two 2-point conversions in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime. Simpson scored on a 2-yard run and a 2-point conversion to cut the lead to 44-36 with 11:59 to play and scored on a 3-yard run and White completed a 2-point conversion pass to Horner to tie the game at 44-44 with 1:11 to play.  MRA senior kicker Max Zuluaga missed a game-winning, 22-yard field goal attempt – only the second miss of his high school career – with 4 seconds to play. MRA’s defense stiffened in the first overtime and Prep sophomore kicker Eli Adams missed a 28-yard field goal attempt to give MRA a chance to win. Simpson scored on third-and-goal from the 1 for the winning TD.

       Simpson’s game-winning score was MRA’s first lead of the game.

       “We got off to a slow start and we trying to do too much,” MRA coach Herbert Davis said. “We started executing in the second quarter and the rest of history. We didn’t practice very well all week and were playing like we practicing early in the game, but we got it going finally.”

       The 5-foot-7, 160-pound Simpson also scored a 3-yard TD for MRA’s first score in the first quarter after MRA didn’t get a first down in its first two drives and Prep jumped out to a 10-0 lead.

       With his 26 points Friday night, Simpson has 164 points (27 TDs and one 2-point conversion) to break the MRA single season scoring record. Nick Everhart held the previous record with 162 points in 2011. He had 31 carries Friday night and caught two passes for 12 yards. It was Simpson’s third straight game to score at least four TDs. He had 190 yards (98 rushing and 90 receiving) and four TDs in a win over Jackson Academy last week and 337 yards (207 rushing yards and 130 receiving yards) and five TDs against Hartfield Academy two weeks ago.

       With its strong finish Friday night, MRA has now scored at least 42 points in every game this season and the fourth time to score at least 50 points. 

       White started slow – missing five of his first six passes – but finished strong. The Southern Miss commitment completed 28 of 40 passes for 365 yards and three TDs (10 yards to Jack Polles, 9 yards to Horner and 12 yards to Will Bizot). White also increased his career passing yards to 14,613 and passed Ty Keyes from Taylorsville (14,525 from 2017-2020) to become the second highest in Mississippi history. White now only trails Myles Brennan, who passed for 15,138 career yards at St. Stanislaus from 2013-16. White has at least two games in his career, next week’s final regular season game at Presbyterian Christian School and the semifinal playoff game at home against the winner of Prep and Madison St. Joseph. He needs 526 yards to break the record, an average of 263 yards in those two games.

       White has passed for 3,103 yards and 35 TDs this season. It is the third consecutive season White has passed for more than 3,000 yards. He threw for 3,935 yards two years ago as a sophomore and 3,175 last season as a junior.

       “At the first of the game, we were trying to do too much on offense,” White said. “I missed a couple of throws I shouldn’t have made, and it took us just a bit to find our rhythm. After we got that first score, they never really stopped our offense again all night.

       “Man, what an effort by our whole team. We were down the whole game and going into the fourth quarter we were down two touchdowns, but we kept fighting throughout the game. Our defense got a big stop when they needed to and the offense punched it in. I’m really proud of our young guys for stepping up tonight. Hats off to my offensive line as well. They played great all night.

       “Prep is a great team and really well coached. They came out prepared and played very hard. They are a great football team.”

       It was the second straight week Prep lost a lead in the second half. Prep led Hartfield Academy 17-14 at halftime before Hartfield rallied for a 30-17 victory.

       Junior quarterback Billy Puckett completed 22 of 33 passes for 317 yards and three TDs (two to senior wide receiver Owen McCraney and one to junior running back Cole Gideon) and Quin had 187 all-purpose yards (82 receiving yards, 81 return yards and 24 yards on an interception return for a TD).

       “I thought our kids played hard,” Prep coach Doug Goodwin said. “We played well on offense most of the night but made some costly mistakes late in the fourth quarter (in the fourth quarter). Not getting the first down on fourth and 1 was a killer. MRA is really good on offense. The blocked PAT came back to bite us. It allowed them to tie the game with the 2-point conversions.”