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No. 21 Olive Branch (Miss.) rallies to capture 6-A title

There was the one they call the Miracle on Blocker Street. And there were the two this season over Madison Central and Smyrna.

But no doubt, the Miracle on State Street — Friday’s thrilling 35-34 victory over Petal for the Mississippi Class 6-A state title — is the one Conquistador fans will remember the most.

“This is definitely the greatest one,” said Mays, who led his team on an 80-yard drive that started with 2:47 left. Mays capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run — his fourth touchdown run of the game — with 1:12 left, then he powered into the end zone for the go-ahead two-point conversion.

And then he had to hold his breath as Petal quarterback Anthony Alford, who was just as brilliant in defeat, tried to answer one last time in what was a back-and forth quarterback dual that lived up to the pre-game hype.

Alford drove the Panthers (10-5) to the 26-yard line with three seconds remaining.

Petal kicker Austin Franklin nailed what would have been the game-winning 43-yard field goal, but it was nullified because of an offside penalty.

Franklin’s second attempt from 38 yards out sailed just to the left as time expired and the No. 21 Conquistadors completed their first undefeated season to claim the school’s first state title in a wild game at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.

“It’s an unfortunate high school rule, but it’s a dead ball on an offside,” Petal coach Steve Buckley said. “We came here to win this ball game. We played with a lot of heart. It doesn’t feel real good right now, but we’ll look back and know we played great.”

For Olive Branch coach Scott Samsel, he could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

“This is the biggest win I’ve ever had,” Samsel said. “As many as I have had missed and go against me over the years, it feels good to have one to finally go our way.”

Mays had 84 yards rushing and 241 yards in the air to lead the Conquistadors.

“This feels unbelievable,” Mays said. “It was a great effort by both teams, but we were able to come away with the victory.”

Alford ran for 201 yards on 37 carries and passed for 169 yards and accounted for five touchdowns. His last touchdown, a 5-yard run, gave Petal a 34-27 lead, setting up Mays’ heroics.

“This is special group of kids,” Samsel said. “They are fun to coach. They are great competitors and they just never quit. We have an 85-year history of football and we’ve had a lot of good teams, with a lot of semifinals and quarterfinal appearances. You always need one or two things to go your way to get you one and finally we had the good fortune to have things to go our way.”

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