JACKSON, Miss. -- Behind a strong second half performance, Lamar downed Simpson Academy 34-20 at Jackson Academy on Thursday to clinch a third consecutive MAIS AAAA Division II State Championship. It was the second year in a row the Raiders defeated Simpson Academy to bring the title back to the Queen City.
"I don't know how to say it, because I've never been a situation like this" said Lamar head coach Mac Barnes after the game. "You lose so many players from each year, then another guy steps up and do their job. I mean, how many times you going to beat a team four times in a row? Two times in a row in the state championship!"
The Raiders opened the game with a three-and-out, followed by Simpson moving the ball quickly into Lamar territory on its opening drive. The Cougars got all the way to the Lamar 7 before fumbling the ball on a pitch to the left, giving the Raiders another opportunity on offense.
Senior quarterback Joseph Hutchinson led the offense on a lengthy drive that went into the second quarter, capped off by 4-yard touchdown run by Brooks Brock. A missed extra point made it 6-0 Lamar.
The Cougars got back in business after a bad snap on a punt put SCA on the Lamar 1, with Cougars quarterback Hooks Harvey sneaking it in from there to tie the game at 6-6. Lamar would block the ensuing extra point to keep it tied.
A few successful running plays allowed the Raiders to take the lead before the half, including a big 41-yard run by Joseph Hutchinson that moved Lamar in Simpson territory. Jake Ransier would later punch it in from 10-yards put the Raiders back out in front before the half.
Simpson would score first in the 3rd quarter on a short touchdown run, but Lamar would respond by stringing together a few big plays late in the quarter that led to Raiders touchdowns. Lamar led 27-12 entering the final quarter of play.
Simpson was able to bring the game within striking distance with Caleb Gardner powering in a short touchdown run and two-point conversion early in the 4th, but the Raiders defense didn't break the rest of the way, forcing two turnovers late to keep the game in control. Hutchinson would score what was essentially the game-clinching touchdown on a 1-yard keeper with just over two minutes play.
The victory would end what was a stellar four years for the Class of 2019, with a record of 38-14 over the stretch.
"I just feel like as i got older, the team just got more closer and closer together." Hutchinson said. "We were able to just get it done."
Lamar ends the season with a record of 10-3. Simpson finishes with a mark of 10-4.