Mount Olive gets late TD to clip Wave

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 9, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; In a game that kept going back and forth and saw five lead changes, it was the last of those that helped Mount Olive stay undefeated in Region 4-1A.

Michael McNair’s 5-yard run with and two-point conversion with 1:19 left in the game gave the Pirates a 37-31 win over the Cathedral Green Wave Friday night at D’Evereaux Stadium.

&uot;We are very lucky to get outta here with a win,&uot; Pirates head coach Jackie Simpson said. &uot;I don’t know if we underestimated them. They’re one of the best-coached teams I’ve ever seen.&uot;

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Cathedral (3-2, 2-2) had a big chance to gain ground on Mount Olive and Mize in Region 4-1A, but blew an eight-point lead in the final 14 and 1/2 minutes of the game.

&uot;That one had its ups and downs,&uot; Green Wave head coach Ken Beesley Sr. said. &uot;They finally wore us down. We don’t have the depth. Their lineman outweighed us by a lot. We don’t have a lot of size.&uot;

But perhaps the one thing that caught the Green Wave by surprise was that the Pirates (4-2, 4-0) threw the ball a lot more than expected, especially in the first half.

Mount Olive quarterback Pieri (pronounced Perry) Feazell had his way with Cathedral’s defense in the first half, going 8-of-10 for 174 yards and the game’s first score, a 77-yard touchdown pass to speedy receiver Lechung Williams.

Williams caught the ball at the Pirates’ 40-yard line and outran the secondary down the right sideline. Jake Lewis’ extra point gave the Pirates a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.

&uot;We felt like they were going to run the ball,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;They caught us by surprise throw in the ball in the first half.&uot;

Cathedral answered with an 18-yard touchdown run by Jonathon Jackson with 7:55 to go in the first quarter. John Paul Kenda’s point-after tied the score a 7-7.

Turner Smith’s 36-yard pass to Garrett Jones and a couple of offsides penalties against the Pirates keyed the scoring drive.

Smith had a spectacular first half throwing the ball, going 9-of-12 for 129 yards and Jackson had five carries for 76 yards and two touchdowns in that half.

&uot;They’ve got a good team here,&uot; Simpson said. &uot;He (Smith) throws the ball well when he’s standing still.&uot;

The Green Wave defense forced the Pirates to turn the ball over on downs at the CHS 46 and Jackson gave them their first lead of the game with a 54-yard touchdown run and a 14-7 lead with 5:19 to go in the second quarter after Kenda’s extra point.

That lead didn’t last long as tailback Earl McLaurin, the workhorse of the Pirates’ backfield, scored on a 5-yard run and Lewis’s point-after made it 14-14.

Mount Olive retook the lead as wide receiver/defensive back Marcus Baggett picked off a Smith pass and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown to give the Pirates a 20-14 lead.

Cathedral got the lead with 36 seconds left when Smith connected with Jones on a 7-yard pass and Kenda’s extra point gave the Green Wave a 21-20 lead.

But a short kickoff gave the Pirates great field position at its own 45 and from there they got to the Green Wave 23-yard line. There Lewis nailed a 40-yard field goal to give them a 23-21 halftime lead.

Cathedral then scored twice in the third quarter, first on a 32-yard field goal by Kenda and then on a 33-yard run by Jackson for a 31-23 lead with 5:29 to go in the third quarter.

&uot;We played hard,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;We had our opportunities to go up by two scores.&uot;

On the first play from scrimmage after the ensuing kickoff, McNair fumbled the ball and Cathedral recovered it at the Mount Olive 37-yard line.

After getting a first down at the Pirates’ 22-yard line, Cathedral was called for back-to-back false start penalties and the Green Wave eventually turned it over on downs.

&uot;We hurt ourselves in the third quarter,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;We had the opportunity to go up by more than nine. We had the opportunity to go down and those two penalties hurt us.&uot;