Calhoun Academy suffered its first loss of the season Friday in their final regular season game at number one ranked Russell Christian in Meridian 35-26.
Russell scored the first two touchdowns of the game – the first at 9:35 mark of the first quarter and the second at the 6:20 mark to take a 14-0 lead.
With 1:37 left in the first quarter, Kyle Carter scored on a 10 yard run to cut the lead to 14-6. The extra point missed.
The Cougars recovered their onside kick at the 44, but couldn't move the ball in the ensuing possession and were forced to punt.
On the Cougars' last possession of the half, an offsides penalty on Russell moved Calhoun to the 5-yard line, where with 14 seconds left, Hunter Harmon scored on a quarterback sneak. Kyle Carter scored on the 2-point conversion to pull the Cougars within 21-14.
Russell scored the first points of the third quarter with 5:05 remaining to go up 28-14.
A 12-yard touchdown run by Danny Joe Norman pulled the Cougars within a single score at 28-20 with 1:51 left in the third.
With Russell threatening to score, Norman intercepted a pass at the 1-yard line with 8:10 to play in the game.
The Cougar offense was eventually forced to punt and Russell drove back down again and scored with 4:03 to play to go up 35-20.
Norman returned the ensuing kickoff 52 yards, then Harmon completed a 40 yard pass to Kyle Carter, getting the ball to the 3-yard line.
Harmon scored the touchdown with 2:13 to play to close the gap to 35-26, but the 2-point conversion failed and the Cougars were unable to get the ball back.
Calhoun will open the playoffs next Friday at home.