History will remember Friday night from one of two vantage points – the inability of Collins to score inside Taylorsville territory, or the ability of Taylorsville to stop Collins from scoring in its territory.
Taylorsville head coach Mitch Evans will remember the latter. His team’s defense held Collins scoreless in the second half Friday night on four drives inside their territory as Taylorsville escaped with a 14-12 win on the road.
“It’s just kids making plays,” said Evans. “You can do things scheme-wise all you want, but if kids don’t make plays, it doesn’t matter. And our kids made plays. We made one more play than they [Collins] did tonight.”
The reigning MHSAA 2A champions advance to South State title game for a rematch versus Bay Springs. Taylorsville beat Bay Springs, 35-14, in region play during the regular season.
How the score stood at the half, is how the game ended. Neither team was able to reach the end zone in the final half on the soggy, mud flats at Collins High School.
“It shows what kind of team we are,” said Evans. “We knew the conditions would be rough, but our kids battled through it. Defensively, I can’t say enough good things about how good Coach “G” did tonight. Now we got one more to get ready for.”
Collins – along with the muddy conditions – held Taylorsville’s sophomore phenomenon quarterback Ty Keyes to just 124 yards passing. Keyes finished 8-of-18 for 124 yards and a touchdown.
Keyes also rushed for a touchdown in the 14-12 win. His four-yard keeper on the left edge early in the second quarter tied the game 6-6. Cline’s extra-point kick put Taylorsville on top of Collins 7-6 with 10:04 left in the first half.
Despite the sloppy field conditions, Taylorsville played turnover-free. Collins, however, did not. The Tigers committed eight turnovers, including one interception, one fumble and six turnovers on downs. Following a Hershey McLaurin interception, Taylorsville made the Tigers pay one-play later. Keyes found senior wide receiver Raven Arrington on a slant up the middle for a 35-yard touchdown strike. The one-play drive gave the Tartars a 14-6 after Cline’s extra point kick with 4:03 left in the second quarter.
Collins pulled within two points as the clock expired in the first half. McLaurin connected with Akeem McNair on a three-yard pass play to complete a six-play, 49-yard scoring drive. A two-point conversion attempt was stopped just short of the goal line by the Tartars’ defense.
Taylorsville kept Collins from a go-ahead drive in the second half, stopping the Tigers on all five of their second-half drives. Four of those drives resulted in a turnover on downs.
Collins ends the 2018 season 11-2. Taylorsville remains unbeaten at 14-0 ahead of its Class 2A showdown with Bay Springs at home.