Vikings end two-year slide with win on special nightPublished 1:18am Saturday, September 29, 2012
NATCHEZ — Torrey Smith’s birthday might be today, but he gave himself — and all of his teammates — an early birthday present at homecoming Friday night.
With Vidalia High School trailing Baker High School 7-6 at the 4:23 mark in the fourth, the Vikings safety made a play that not only gave his team the lead, but also gave them the confidence they needed.
Smith tackled the Baker quarterback in the end zone for a safety, giving the Vikings an 8-7 lead.
“It felt great,” Smith said. “It felt like we were in there, like we were back.”
The play gave them the ball back for a chance to milk the clock. Vidalia was forced to punt on fourth down with approximately a minute and a half left, but the Viking defense wasn’t done yet.
With 59 seconds on the clock and Baker pinned back on its own 1-yard line, Smith and linebacker Dantrell Saul plowed their way through the Baker offensive line and again sacked the quarterback in the end zone for another safety.
“I couldn’t do it by myself,” Smith said. “It was me, Dantrell, the whole line, we all did it together.”
The Vidalia players and crowd erupted after the second safety gave the Vikings a 10-7 lead, ensuring the team of its first win since Nov. 5, 2010, when Vidalia beat Jena High School 40-28.
“I’m overwhelmed right now,” Vidalia head coach Gary Parnham Jr. said. “It finally all came together for us. We finally got some breaks tonight, and they went our way.”
Those breaks included an unmitigated disaster in terms of penalties for Baker. The Buffaloes committed 22 penalties for minus 179 yards, more than twice the number of total yards Baker got on offense.
One break that didn’t go Vidalia’s way led to Baker’s only score of the night. Vidalia had the ball on the Baker 25-yard line, but Baker’s Michael Gorrasand picked up a fumble by running back Stewart Mallory. Gorrasand ran the ball back for what would have been a touchdown were it not for a block in the back penalty on Baker.
A few plays later, an inadvertent whistle overturned a fumble recovery by Vidalia, and Baker then punched it into the end zone on a 5-yard run by Gorrasand with 5:45 left in the second.
But the Viking defense held Baker to just 59 yards of total offense, something Parnham said he was very proud of.
“The defense played lights out, fantastic,” Parnham said. “That first score they got, it should have been a shutout, because they shouldn’t have gotten that first score. Those guys, defensively, played their tails off, and we got after these guys.”
Vidalia marched down the field in the third quarter thanks to a combination of their own running backs getting hard-fought yards and Baker racking up a ton of penalties. The Vikings scored their lone touchdown with 7:24 left in the third on a 2-yard carry by Dee Whitley. The two-point run failed, and Baker led 7-6 at the end of three.
The Vikings tallied 126 yards on the ground and just 5 yards through the air. In addition to his two defensive gems, Smith also led Vidalia in rushing, tallying 54 yards on 13 carries.
The win was a big deal for homecoming queen Laura Perilloux, who said she’s been to every Viking football game in her high school career.
“This one was the most emotional (for me), because it’s my senior homecoming, and that was the closest game I’ve seen us play in a while that we actually came out on top.” Perilloux said.
And just because she and her homecoming court were dressed to perfection Friday doesn’t mean they were going to be laid back.
“It was intense. We were all screaming the whole time,” Perilloux said.
Former Viking head coach Dee Faircloth was also on-hand for homecoming despite his legendary hatred of all homecoming activities.
“It was great,” Faircloth said. “But I still hate homecoming.”
Vidalia (1-4) will host Jena next week.