Interception seals ticket for excited Cathedral team
EDITOR’S NOTE: The original story incorrectly listed which player recovered a Hinds County AHS fumble on a kickoff return late in the second quarter. Dale Matheney recovered the fumble. We regret the error and are happy to set the record straight.
NATCHEZ — Whether it was jumping for joy or sighing from relief, Cathedral High School’s sideline came alive when Josh Wilkerson pulled in an interception in the fourth quarter.
With Cathedral leading 19-14 in the final few minutes of play, Hinds County AHS quarterback Aaron Terrell was trying to lead his team on a game-winning drive.
But Wilkerson had other ideas as he pulled in a pass from Terrell with 3:12 left in the fourth. The turnover gave Cathedral the ball on the Hinds 40-yard line, and the Green Wave running game took over, grinding out yards while running out the clock.
The senior-night win put Cathedral in the playoffs, and head coach Ron Rushing said he was proud of his team fighting through the setbacks it faced this fall.
“We’ve gone through a lot this year, losing as many as we did last year,” Rushing said. “These guys have held together.”
Both teams scored all of their points in the first two quarters, and Rushing said he was especially proud of his team keeping the Bulldogs out of the end zone the entire second half.
“They played well all year,” Rushing said. “(Defensive coordinator Jeff) Roberts has brought a new mentality over there. We were good last year, but he’s brought a scheme over there, where we’re doing the same thing each week, and he’s brought an attitude and toughness over there.”
The Bulldogs scored first when Derrius West caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Terrell with 4:20 left in the second quarter. Cathedral went scoreless in the first, but a 3-yard touchdown run by quarterback Thomas Garrity with 10:36 left in the second quarter tied the game 7-7.
The Bulldogs took a 14-7 lead at the 6:39 mark in the second quarter on an 8-yard run by Deandre Selman. Selman led Hinds AHS with 117 yards rushing on 18 carries.
Cathedral’s Christian Jenkins cut the lead to 13-12 with 2:51 left in the half on a 2-yard touchdown run. The Green Wave missed the extra-point attempt, keeping them trailing by one.
But Cathedral got a break on the ensuing kickoff, when Terrance Jackson and Josh Wilkerson both forced a fumble that was recovered by Cathedral’s Dale Matheney at the Bulldogs’ 33-yard line with 2:40 left in the half.
That set up what would be the game-winning drive, as the Green Wave drove the ball 33 yards before Garrity once again punched it in from 3 yards out with 1:49 remaining in the second. Cathedral attempted to run for the two-point conversion but couldn’t make it, leaving the score at 19-12.
Christian led Cathedral in rushing, tallying 66 yards on 22 carries. Rushing said the sophomore running back has done a good job filling in after starter Khalil Brice got hurt early in the year.
“He’s a sophomore, but we brought him up his eighth-grade year, and he ran a lot last year, so I think of him as an upperclassman,” Rushing said. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world in him, and that’s why we put the ball in his hands.”
Christian said he didn’t think he could fill the gap at first after Brice went down, but he said he slowly gained confidence as the season progressed.
“Faith and hard work really pays off, I tell you,” he said.
“I felt pressure at first, but then I took it as my own role, as if I had done it the whole time. I knew I had seniors and people at the school looking up to me, and I felt like it was my job to get it done.”
Garrity completed 14 of 30 passes for 199 yards. Parker Rymer led in receiving with four catches for 102 yards. Peyton Jenkins was a standout on defense, tallying seven tackles and five assists.
Cathedral (6-3, 5-3) will play at Hartfield Academy next Friday.