Just two weeks ago, the DeSoto Thunderbirds unleashed a very impressive offensive attack en route to a 35-7 regular season victory over the West Memphis Black Knights at Sam Howe Field. All the T-Birds' points came after allowing the Knights to draw first blood.
The setting and results were quite similar Friday evening but the circumstances were quite different. You see, the winner of this meeting advanced to second round of the Mississippi Private School Association playoffs.
Again West Memphis Christian scored first before DeSoto rallied and ran off 32 unanswered points and rolled to a 39-20 victory in round 1 of the playoffs.
The Black Knights scored with 9:58 to play in the first quarter on a pass from Trevor Pagan to wide receiver Ricky Patterson. The play covered 34 yards.
Aided by a facemask penalty and a 15-yard pass play from Zac Manning to Reed St. Columbia, the T-Birds wasted little time answering the Black Knights' score. Manning scrambled 23 yards for the game-tying touchdown. Rowland Brothers' extra point gave DeSoto a lead they would never relinquish.
St. Columbia recovered a West Memphis fumble at the Knights 31 to set up DeSoto's next score. With 3:59 still to play in the opening quarter, the Thunderbirds extended their lead to 13-6 when St. Columbia punched the ball into the end zone from a yard out.
DeSoto did not score again until the 7:35 mark of the second quarter. Linebacker Sam Howe intercepted a West Memphis pass and returned it nine yards for the score.
Howe's second interception of the night set up DeSoto's last TD of the half. Again, St. Columbia scored from a yard out.
DeSoto took a comfortable 25-6 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Manning hooked up with St. Columbia for a 34-yard touchdown pass to get the second half underway. The 57-yard drive took less than three minutes to complete. DeSoto led 32-6 with 9:20 still to play in the third quarter.
Pagan's second 34-yard TD pass of the night came with 7:44 to play in the third quarter. He also connected with a successful 2-point conversion pass to cut into DeSoto's big lead at 32-14.
The Thunderbirds had another opportunity to score late in the third quarter when St. Columbia intercepted his second pass on the night, four total for the T-Birds. Brothers was unable to click on a 33-yard field attempt with 13 seconds left in the quarter.
Both teams scored in the final stanza. DeSoto's Griffin Christine barreled into the end zone from 11 yards out for the T-Birds final TD of the night. Pagan threw his third TD pass of the night with just 18 seconds on the clock to put the final score at 39-20.
DeSoto draws a rematch against the Marshall Academy Patriots this Friday night at Holly Springs, Miss. in round 2 of the MPSA playoffs. The Thunderbirds lost the Oct. 25 matchup against the 1A North Conference champs at Holly Springs by a 62-38 score.