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Field goal lifts Cathedral over St. Aloysius

Cathedral High’s J.J. Jenkins tries to carry the ball past St. Aloysius player Demichael Harris Friday night at D’Evereaux Stadium. (Justin Sellers \ The Natchez Democrat)
Cathedral High’s J.J. Jenkins tries to carry the ball past St. Aloysius player Demichael Harris Friday night at D’Evereaux Stadium. (Justin Sellers \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Cathedral High School head coach Ron Rushing wanted to run out the clock, but the Green Wave offense had other ideas.

In hindsight, Rushing said he was glad he didn’t go with the initial plan Friday night.

Tied 14-14 with rival St. Aloysius with 1:02 left in the game, Cathedral was on its own 20 and had sputtered offensively the entire half. But the Green Wave made a couple of big plays, driving down to the 1-yard line, before kicker Nic Webb made a 19-yard field goal with 6.4 seconds left to give Cathedral a 17-14 lead.

“I was actually going to run it out and go into overtime, but (quarterback Thomas Garrity) pulled the ball out and made something happen that allowed us to take a shot,” Rushing said.

The Green Wave stopped the Flashes on the ensuing kickoff to seal the win, and Rushing said he was happy with the outcome but disappointed in his team’s performance.

“We finally made some plays,” Rushing said. “That’s the most unorganized I’ve ever been in a football game in 15 years. I’m embarrassed by the product we put on the field tonight. We didn’t have them ready, and we weren’t in shape.”

Cathedral High quarterback Thomas Garrity looks for a teammate to pass to in the Friday night game against St. Aloysius at D’Evereaux Stadium. (Justin Sellers \ The Natchez Democrat)
Cathedral High quarterback Thomas Garrity looks for a teammate to pass to in the Friday night game against St. Aloysius at D’Evereaux Stadium. (Justin Sellers \ The Natchez Democrat)

St. Al head coach B.J. Smithhart, on the other hand, said he was pleased with the way his team came out in its first game of the season.

“I’ll be honest, and I usually don’t say it, but I thought our boys got after them,” Smithhart said. “They just made one more play at the end than we did. They do a good job (at Cathedral), and what an exciting way for both teams to start the season.”

Garrity had struggled under center with four interceptions for Cathedral before the final drive. However, he got things started off right in the final minute with a 21-yard scramble, followed by a 24-yard pass to receiver Jardarius Anderson.

But it was his next big play that was the biggest, as Garrity connected with Will Sandel on a 33-yard reception that put the ball at the St. Al 2. A penalty by St. Al on the next play advanced Cathedral to the 1 before Rushing opted to go for the field goal.

“We were out of timeouts, and Nic Webb has kicked the ball really, really well up to this point, so it was basically an extra point, and we felt confident he’d make it,” Rushing said.

Webb said he was saying a prayer leading up to the kick, and after it went through, he said he was honored to help lead his team to a victory against their arch rivals.

“I was just excited for the seniors, because this was their last time to face St. Al,” Webb said. “I was just thanking Thomas and Will for getting me down there.”

Garrity, who finished the game 16 of 32 with 273 yards and a touchdown, said he knew it was time to shine at the end after his earlier struggles. He also credited quarterbacks coach Brett Hinson with helping him stay focused.

“It’s St. Al in my senior year — I had to make the plays,” Garrity said. “When I struggle, I go to coach Brett. He’s the best man in the world. He told me to keep my head up and lead the team, because if they see me with my head down, they’re going to get down. But if I keep my head up, they’ll keep their head up.”

The Flashes scored first on an 81-yard interception return by Connor Smith with 10:26 left in the first quarter. Cathedral tied the game with 11:14 left in the second on a 30-yard touchdown reception by Anderson on fourth-and-11.

Cathedral took the lead 14-7 when Josh Wilkerson took an interception 94 yards for a touchdown, but St. Al tied it with 34.8 seconds to go in the half on a 78-yard pass from Smith to Brandon Teller.

St. Al had two chances to take back the lead, but the Flashes missed a 30-yard field goal attempt with 5:11 to go in the third and a 42-yard attempt with 1:02 left in the fourth.

Smith was 9-for-20 with 125 yards and a touchdown for the Flashes. Matthew Foley went 2 of 4 under center for 35 yards and an interception.

Garrity led Cathedral in rushing with 23 yards, and Wilkerson tallied 21 yards. St. Al’s Barrett Teller had 45 rushing yards, and Smith rushed for 41 yards.

Cathedral had several injuries during the game, including a collarbone injury for Christian Jenkins. Jenkins said he had a separated collarbone, and he also said teammate Jae Eidt suffered a broken shoulder.

The Green Wave was also without standout receiver Ishmael Blackmon, who tweaked his hamstring during the jamboree against Wilkinson County Christian Academy last week. Blackmon said he expects to be back next week.

Cathedral (1-0) will host Madison-St. Joe next Friday, while St. Al (0-1) will host Pisgah High School next Friday.

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