CAMDEN —The stage was set for a showdown between the top two teams in Class 2A — No. 1 Scott Central and No. 2 Velma Jackson — but Rebel quarterback Quez Goss stole the show.
Goss, who was playing for the first time in four weeks, racked up four touchdowns, including three through the air and one on the ground, to lead Scott Central to a 33-20 win. The victory clinched the Region 6 crown and put the finishing touches on a masterpiece of a 10-0 regular season for first-year Rebel coach Jeff Stockstill.
“(Velma Jackson) is one of the better teams we’ve played this year,” Stockstill said. “We’ve played really well the last couple of weeks, but we knew this one was going to come down to the very end. We feel fortunate to be in this position, and I just hope we can capitalize on this momentum and make us a playoff run.”
The Rebels (10-0, 4-0 in Region 6) clinched the top playoff seed with the win, and will face the No. 4 seed out of Region 7 Amite County in the first round of the playoffs next week.
If they play like they did Friday night, they’ll be just fine.
The Rebels overcame a slow start to build a 19-14 halftime lead.
Velma Jackson (7-2) struck first, going 81 yards on its second possession in just four plays. Sophomore Gavin Griffin went off left tackle for 55 yards on the first play of the drive, then capped it with a 21-yard touchdown two plays three plays later.
Scott Central responded two possessions later with a nine-play, 83-yard touchdown drive. The Rebels converted three first downs, including a 12-yard run on a fake punt near midfield, before Goss hooked up with junior wideout Javieon Butler on a 44-yard bomb of a touchdown down the visiting sideline to tie the game at 7-7 with 22 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Rebels got the ball back on a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and went right back to work. They overcame two penalties — a holding call and a false start — to cover 32 yards in five plays and capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Goss to senior Patrick Sessums. They led it 13-7 after the point-after failed.
Velma came right back with a 69-yard touchdown drive on the next possession. Griffin jump-started the drive with another long run, this one 45 yards, and quarterback Terrance Mack finished it with a 2-yard run. The extra point gave the Falcons the 14-13 lead with 10:01 left in the first half.
Scott Central got a clutch touchdown just before the half, when Goss found Antreyvious Edwards open on the visiting sideline. Edwards made several defenders miss with a big cut-back and raced 54 yards for the score with 36 seconds left on the clock, giving the Rebels the 19-14 lead going into the half.
Both teams made good adjustments defensively in the second half.
The Falcon defense got a stop on the opening drive of the third quarter after the Rebels drove as far as the Falcon eight-yard line. They stuffed the run on second and third down, then had good coverage on a 4th-&-11 play from the 14 to get the turnover on downs.
Scott Central forced a punt on Velma’s first possession, but Goss coughed up the football on a strip sack two plays later. Velma Jackson junior Lorenzo Smith scooped the loose ball and raced 38 yards for the fumble return touchdown to put Falcons back on top, 20-19, with 2:24 left in the third quarter.
It stayed that way until Scott Central’s first possession of the fourth quarter, when Goss made the play of the game.
Facing a 4th-&-8 at the Velma Jackson 41, Goss struggled to find an open receiver, pulled the ball down, broke a couple of tackles and rumbled all 41 yards for the touchdown, giving the Rebels a 25-20 lead they never gave back.
“We were looking for one of our best receivers Dee Burks on the outside there, but he was covered,” Goss said. “So I had to scramble and luckily we were able to make something out of nothing there. It was big… the whole game was big.”
The Rebels got one more defensive stop, got the ball back with 5:17 left and put the game away with a 10-play, 71-yard touchdown drive capped by a one-yard dive by tailback Zechariah Parodi.
Goss finished with the stat-line of the night: he completed 14 of his 22 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns and rushed nine times for 79 yards and another score.
Griffin finished with 12 carries for 132 yards for the home-standing Falcons.
The loss saddled Velma Jackson with the two-seed coming out of Region 6. The Falcons will face East Marion (4-5) in the first round of the playoffs next Friday night in Camden.
“It was a good ballgame between two good teams tonight,” Velma coach Quentin Euell said. “We had the quarterback wrapped up in the backfield on fourth down with the lead, and we let him slip away. But I think we might have another shot at (Scott Central) before this thing is all said and done, and it’s up to us to make the most of it if we do.”