By Morgan Bryce
A breakout performance from junior wide receiver Ja’Carious McKissic helped Beauregard slip by their second-round playoff opponent Calera 30-17 Friday night at Hornet Stadium.
Finishing with seven catches for 148 yards and three touchdowns, McKissic’s strong showing came as no surprise to Coach Rob Carter.
“We knew he was capable of it. We worked all week with him (and) we knew the mismatches coming in,” Carter said. “He had to make plays he had to go over the top … he knew that coming into the game, and we were able to find it and make those plays.”
Beauregard was without their star running back La’damian Webb, who suffered a lower leg injury during the Hornet’s first-round playoff win against Greenville Nov. 11.
Following an explosive 47-yard pass play to Demerius Woodson, Calera quarterback Cornelius Brown IV was stripped by Beauregard middle linebacker Hunter Feaster on a quarterback draw, which was recovered by Calera offensive lineman Gabriel Schweitzer in the endzone for the game’s first score.
Trailing 7-0, the Hornets countered with a long drive orchestrated by backup running back Jacob Callaway, and finished it off with a 5-yard fade pass from Jaichis Holmes to a leaping Isaiah McKissic to tie the game.
Great defense from both sides prevailed until late in the second quarter, when Beauregard extended their lead by three after a 27-yard field goal by Ricardo Mendoza.
With 2:47 left in the second quarter, a snap on a punt attempt bounced off Beauregard offensive lineman Dakota Toler, giving the Eagles prime field position at the Hornet 34-yard line.
Brown IV hit junior wide receiver Will Smith in stride on an 8-yard slant route to give the Eagles a 14-10 lead, which they would take into halftime.
After a crucial fourth-down stop by their defense, Holmes
hit McKissic on a 62-yard streak for his second score and to retake the lead, 17-14 with 6:40 left in the third quarter.
The Eagles quickly marched down the field on their next drive before bogging down in the Beauregard red zone, settling for 26-yard Zachary Ford field goal.
A swarming Hornet defense, led by Feaster, Jadarius Preston, Dylan McCann and Jared McDonald, did the rest. McDonald and Callaway contributed with interceptions on the next two Calera drives, shutting out the Eagles in the fourth quarter and snuffing out any chance of an upset.
Beauregard’s last score came on an 8-yard pass from Holmes to a wide-open Preston with 44.5 seconds left, sealing the Hornet victory and a ticket to the third round of the playoffs.
Despite Webb’s absence, the Beauregard offense turned in a strong showing, finishing with 388 total yards.
Holmes completed 14-of-24 passes for 214 yards and four TDs. Callaway filled in nicely for Webb, rushing 26 times for 112 yards.
Allowing only 300 total yards to Calera, Carter said his defense has played a pivotal role in their postseason run, particularly in the second half of their past two games.
“Our defense played great. We knew coming in that our secondary would have to do a great job of getting some turnovers, and we got three, especially the key one with Jacob Callaway,” Carter said. “There’s a lot of coaching going on at halftime. I give a lot of credit to the defensive staff and Coach (Mike) Glisson, being able to make the adjustments to hold them out of the endzone.”
Now 11-1, Beauregard will travel to St. Paul’s Episcopal this Friday night in the third round of the AHSAA Class 5A state playoffs.
Carter remained mum on Webb’s status, but said his team will continue to focus on finding its identity without him.
Kickoff against St. Pauls is set for 7 p.m. The school is located at 161 Dogwood Lane in Mobile.