Sharkey-Issaquena Academy overcomes 20-point halftime deficit, stuns Calhoun Academy with walk-off touchdown to win MAIS 1A Championship

Senior Gary Jackson scored a 35-yard touchdown as time expired to give SIA the 32-26 win
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 8:14 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Sharkey-Issaquena Academy went into the locker room at halftime of the MAIS 1A Championship game down 20-0 to Calhoun Academy, with little offense to speak of. Coming out of the break, the Confederates started their comeback one play into the second half.

Senior Gary Jackson took the ball 52 yards on the ground to cut into the Cougar lead and make it 20-8.

Later in the third, it was Jackson again. After the SIA defense stuffed the Cougars in the shadow of their goal line, Jackson took the snap, and with a few key blocks, did not stop until he hit the end zone 98 yards later.

Calhoun Academy scored once more in the third quarter, to make it 26-14 with one quarter to play.

The Confederates cut it to one-score game in the fourth. Once again, Jackson had his hand in the play, completing his only pass attempt to an open Damarion Stamps, who had no one between him and the end zone.

Once again, the SIA defense held strong to keep the Cougars out of the end zone, and the offense capitalized on the opportunity. This time, Jackson handed it off to his running back, Corderrius Jackson, who looked to be locked up several times, but broke a few tackles, and 94 yards later the ball game was tied with 3:17 left to play.

The Cougars tried to mount a game-winning drive, but on 4th & 9 on the SIA 33-yard-line, Gary Jackson stepped up once again, making the tackle to force the turnover on downs.

With 67 yards to go, and 27 seconds and two timeouts to do it, the Confederates got to work.

It all came down to one final play. With overtime looming in a tie game, and 35 yards to go, the SIA coaches dialed up a passing play. However, Gary Jackson, on what would be the final play of his high school career, scrambled away from pressure and 35 yards later, the game was over.

“The play was called for a throw, but everything came crashing down, so I just took off running,” Gary Jackson said after the game. “What was going through my head? Just score.”

The thrilling win gave SIA its second championship title, first since 2014.

“It was insanity,” said head coach Matt Homan. “We didn’t want to go to overtime, because we knew they were going to pound it on us. They’re big and they’re strong, my hat’s off to ‘em. They’re a good team, I can’t believe we pulled it off at the end.”

The team and the community overcame a lot to get to where they finished Thursday. Last year, the Confederates finished the season 2-8. Eight months ago, a tornado devastated their hometown of Rolling Fork.

“They had to fight through adversity since last March. These men have grown up, from a 1-9 team to where we are now, it’s a blessing,” Homan said. “It’s a blessing for these guys, our town, our community.”

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