HATTIESBURG • The trophy is staying in Mississippi.
Wayne County’s Armondous Cooley blocked an extra-point attempt to give Mississippi a 17-16 overtime win over Alabama in the 33rd Annual MS/AL All-Star Game held at Southern Miss on Saturday afternoon.
“I knew I had to be quick coming off the ball and I got a long wingspan, so that helps,” Cooley said.
Mississippi has won three in a row in the series, four of the last five and is now 3-0 when playing this game in the state. Alabama leads the all-time series 22-11.
“Huge plays down the stretch for us,” said Mississippi head coach Brad Breland of Union. “We got down 10-0 through three quarters and never quit and put it together. We take a lot of pride in this game and I think we’ve leveled the playing field.”
Mississippi got on the board on the first play of the fourth quarter on a Gavin Gaudin 31-yard field goal.
After Alabama’s Evan McGuire missed a 25-yard field goal, Mississippi drove down to the Alabama 12-yard line and on fourth down Brandon’s Will Rogers hit Tupelo’s Trip Wilson with a 12-yard pass to tie the game at 10 with 2:04 left.
“I knew the ball was coming to me on a dig, so I just had to make sure I held on to the ball and get in the end zone,” Wilson said. “I’m so proud of this team and how we came together and found a way to win.”
Alabama drove to the Mississippi 8-yard line, but McGuire’s second 25-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Olive Branch’s Jevon Banks with 42 seconds left in regulation.
In overtime, Mississippi went up 17-10 when Rogers hit Janari Dean on a 6-yard pass on third down.
Alabama then scored on second down on a 9-yard pass from Logan Smothers to Mike Pettway before Cooley came up with the big block to preserve the win.
“It’s really excited that we kept the streak going and keeping the trophy. This game makes you play harder just because you want to put on for your home state,” said Dean, from South Panola, who also had 66 yards rushing. “We came together as brothers and all week I knew our defense was really good and hard to block.”
George County four-star defensive lineman McKinnley Jackson was named Mississippi’s Most Valuable Player.
Rogers had 66 yards passing for Mississippi.
“I knew they were going to man coverage if we could get a chip on the linebacker then Dean would be open and Trip make a good block and Janari found the end zone,” Rogers said. “Defense is really good, and deserved the credit for this win and those guys are going to do well wherever they go.
“This game shows that Mississippi has some top talent in the country and we are slept on and I’m so proud of this state and my teammates.”