One play makes difference in 53-47 Cathedral win
NATCHEZ — With one play, Cathedral High School defensive back Andrew Beesley turned the tide back in the Green Wave’s favor — and his own favor, too.
Cathedral watched as opponent St. Joseph Catholic of Madison marched down the field to the Cathedral 1-yard line. With only a 46-41 lead, a touchdown would put the Bruins ahead and give them all the momentum.
But an untimely fumble in the end zone by the Bruins found the ball in the hands of Beesley, who ran it back 99 yards before being stopped on the opposite 1-yard line.
Several plays and a 5-yard penalty later, Green Wave quarterback Thomas Garrity ran it in from 5 yards deep to give Cathedral a 53-41 lead. The Green Wave would go on to win, 53-47.
“It was a big momentum-turner in the game,” Beesley said of his long return. “I was just hoping it would rotate the momentum back to our side.”
Even though the touchdown ended up being the game-winner, Beesley lamented the fact that he gave up two deep touchdown plays to the Bruins earlier in the game.
“If I wouldn’t have given up two (touchdowns) — if I wouldn’t have gotten burnt twice, it wouldn’t have been the game-winner,” Beesley said. “I’m glad our offense played good and scored a lot of points.”
Green Wave head coach Ron Rushing, however, said it was Beesley who had the last hurrah.
“For him, that was huge,” Rushing said. “He got beat on a couple, and he stepped up, and the ball was there, and he made the play when he had to. It basically turned the game around at that point.”
Not even a late touchdown run by the Bruins with 4:46 left in regulation was enough to overcome Cathedral’s lead. With 1:34 left in the game, the Green Wave faced a fourth-and-1 situation on their own 40-yard line. With the Bruins having no time outs left, Cathedral needed a first down to secure the win.
And with a changed snap count, the Green Wave were able to draw Madison St. Joe offsides, effectively ending the game. After Garrity took a knee several times to run out the clock, Rushing said the play to draw the Bruins offsides might have been the best play of the night.
“I think it’s just being disciplined,” Rushing said of the play.
The game began with Cathedral going up 21-0 early with two touchdown catches by Ishmael Blackmon for 11 and 36 yards, and a touchdown catch by R.J. Givens for 32 yards. Madison-St. Joe finally got on the board with 35.8 seconds left in the fourth on a 68-yard pass from Chris Hanneke to Khari Harrison.
Two Cathedral turnovers led to the Bruins tying the game 21-21 in the second quarter. Cathedral fumbled on its own 34, and after pushing Madison-St. Joe back a few yards, Hanneke connected with Harrison from 42 yards out. On both scoring plays, Beesley let Hanneke get behind him.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Green Wave fumbled on their own 41-yard line, setting up another touchdown with 9:04 left to tie the game. Cathedral responded with a touchdown of its own when Josh Wilkerson ran it in from 5 yards out, but the Green Wave missed the extra point, and the Bruins took the ensuing kickoff back 73 yards for the score. After making the extra point, Madison-St. Joe led 28-27 with 7:35 left.
Neither team was done scoring. Cathedral jumped back in front on a 24-yard touchdown reception by Blackmon, but the two-point attempt failed, making it 33-28 with 6:08 left. Cathedral scored again with 2:47 left in the half on a 4-yard reception by Givens.
The Bruins scored again on a 29-yard catch by Harrison, but Wilkerson punched it in for Cathedral with 11.5 seconds in the half on a 5-yard carry to make it 46-34 at intermission.
A 17-yard touchdown run by the Bruins with 10:18 left in the third cut the lead to 46-41 with 10:18 to play.
Garrity was 33 of 54 in passing for 365 yards and five touchdowns. Jardarius Anderson had 14 catches for 130 yards, and Blackmon finished with five catches for 95 yards and three touchdowns Givens tallied 74 yards on six catches and two touchdowns.
Cathedral (2-0) will face Bogue Chitto High School on the road next Friday.