The rivalry football game between South Pike and Tylertown quickly became an afterthought Friday night, as the stadium cleared after what some believed were shots fired. Both teams left the field and the game was halted.
According to the Walthall County Sheriff’s Office, officers at the game confirmed an altercation took place but could not confirm that any shots were fired. Officers did break up a fight at that time, but say no weapons were involved.
The game was halted with eight minutes remaining in the third quarter and Tylertown leading 22-0. It will not resume.
“We saw people running, and then the officials blew the whistle and they began to run to kind of gather people up,” South Pike head coach Brinson Wall said. “The guy on the PA system kind of came on and said, 'Everybody please remain calm, our Sheriff's Department is working out the situation.’
“We're in the middle of the game, and I think as a coach, I was probably four or five steps behind everybody else noticing what was going on, and then when you know something's wrong, my attention immediately began to my kids and the people that were with us, making sure they're all OK. I don't really know exactly what took place. … All we saw was running and that was the first thing that we noticed.”
Chiefs head coach Osborne Holmes recalled the events similarly from the other sideline. He also noticed people running out of the bleachers before he saw or heard anything else, and he's also glad both teams and their supporters got home safely.
"It hurt how the game ended, but it's better for both teams to be safe than sorry," Holmes said. "The officials and the administration and the police staff and everybody affiliated with the decision, that was a great decision for both teams (and) the fans. Everybody was safe and nobody got hurt."
Tylertown controlled the scoring, putting a touchdown and two-point conversion on the board in each of the first two quarters to take a 16-0 lead into the locker room. Quarterback Amerion Jefferson found Ole Miss receiver commit Jeremiah Dillon for the opening score, and Ahmad Thompson scored the Chiefs' second touchdown on the ground. Tylertown then took advantage of a South Pike fumble early in the third quarter and scored on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Jefferson to Dillon.
The teams were lining up for the ensuing kickoff when play was halted.
“Tylertown has a great football team, tremendous athletes at the skill positions. The quarterback (Jefferson), his poise is what you want to see,” Wall said of his team’s opponent. “It's really a shame that something like this had to happen, because I thought both teams were competing as well as we can compete. You just hate for something like us to take away from the game.”
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.