Ketchings’ 200-plus sparks Saints in second half to edge Deer Creek

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 9, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Gregory Ketchings had over 200 yards to his credit, some big runs late in the game and was breathing easy after his Trinity Episcopal squad took a 27-20 win in the first round of the Class A playoffs.

His worry?

It’s not necessarily the team the Saints will play Friday night. It’s the days leading up to it when before they host Glenbrook next week, a winner over Tri-County Friday night.

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&uot;We knew we were screwing up, but we came back and played well,&uot; said Ketchings, whose club scored late in the game to put away an upstart Deer Creek squad to advance in the MPSA Class A playoffs. &uot;We knew we could step up and win the game, but we can’t make mistakes and beat anybody else. We know that, and our coaches know that. We’ll have a good film session on Sunday, go back out there and work hard. I’m sure Coach (Matt) Mason and Coach (David) King will have us ready for next week.&uot;

The win didn’t leave the Saints feeling all too proud, but the win nonetheless kept their hopes alive at playing for another state title. The Saints had two key mistakes that the Warriors took advantage for scored, and Walt Ketchings’ touchdown late in the game was the difference on the scoreboard.

But the Warriors had a shot at winning the game, and it fell about a couple of feet short.

&uot;We just didn’t play well,&uot; King said. &uot;Deer Creek didn’t deserve to lose that game. They did not deserve to lose that game. We had a couple plays at the end of the game, but it was certainly one of our poorer performances of the year. It tells you how good a team can be to win a game when we didn’t play well.&uot;

The Saints took the lead when Walt Ketchings scored with 2:38 left in the game on a 15-yard run for the seven-point difference, but the Warriors didn’t die. Hunter McIntire returned the kickoff to the Trinity 30, and the Saints held them to a third-and-10 situation with just over a minute left.

That’s when the Warriors &045; who up until that point didn’t attempt a pass &045; had McIntire roll out and throw to an open receiver near the goal, but the pass was overthrown. Then the Warriors tried a halfback pass with Chris Welch rolling out to his right, but that pass fell incomplete as well.

The Saints took over with 1:02 left and ran out the clock.

&uot;We had a chance to make the play &045; just out of his fingertips,&uot; Deer Creek head coach Jay Murphree said. &uot;It could have been the difference in the ball game. I’ve got to hand it to Trinity. They’ve got a great team and have some great athletes. I’m proud of all our kids. We played as hard as we possibly could.&uot;

The Warriors’ defense were able to keep speedy receiver Dudley Guice Jr. covered late in the game after he hurt them early, but Gregory Ketchings had some huge second-half runs to keep the Saints moving the ball. On the winning score his runs of 4, 7 and 30 yards set up Walt Ketchings’ winning score.

Gregory Ketchings finished the game with 242 yards on 22 carries, including a 37-yarder on the third play of the second half &045; he ran the first two &045; for a touchdown to give the Saints a 20-13 lead with 10:49 left in the third.

&uot;I’m telling you &045; the line stepped up big time,&uot; Gregory Ketchings said. &uot;I had huge holes to run through. They did a great job. I give all the credit to the linemen and the coaches. Our line did a great job.&uot;

After that the Saints held but made one of two key mistakes to help the Warriors get back in the game. A fumble recovery gave the Warriors the ball at the Trinity 24, and seven plays later Clarke Trotter ran in from 9 yards out to tie the game up at 20-20 with 3:31 left.

The Saints got the ball back and drove the length of the field all the way to the Deer Creek 9 before going for it on fourth and 4. Gregory Ketchings took the handoff and ran from one side of the field to the other trying to find a hole, but he was thrown for a loss to kill the drive.

&uot;I thought we played well,&uot; Murphree said. &uot;I thought the deciding factor in the game was, heck, they were just faster than us. We had kids in position, and we were just out-ran. That (stop) was big.

&uot;That could have been one of those stops that turned the game around. But you’ve got to hand it to them &045; they played hard. We gave them all they wanted, but we just came up a little short.&uot;

The Saints got on the board first when Ryan Rachal hit Dudley Guice on a 44-yard touchdown pass on their second play of the game, but Welch broke a 54-yard run for a score to tie the game at 7-7.

That’s when Gregory Ketchings popped an 80-yard run for a score on the very next play to give the Saints a 14-7 lead with 7:19 left in the second quarter.

The Warriors scored right before the end of the half on a 4-yard run from Clarke Trotter to cut the lead to 14-13 at the break.