Big drive late sinks Saints
Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2003
CLINTON &045; Fool us once, shame on y’all. Fool us twice, shame on us.
Heidelberg Academy missed chance after chance to salt away a 34-20 victory over Briarfield (La.) Academy last Friday.
When Trinity (13-1) yielded its seventh turnover on the Robinson-Hale Stadium grass Thursday, the Rebels plunged the dagger deep into the Saints’ dreams of their second Mississippi Private School Association Class A state championship in three years.
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Instead, the game-winning drive resulted in a 19-14 score in favor of Heidelberg (12-2), which captured its third Class A title in four years.
&uot;We didn’t make many mistakes and they did,&uot; Rebel head coach Tom Lewis said. &uot;You can’t make those type of mistakes when you get here. I felt proud of my defense. They made play after play for us. They were ready to go.&uot;
Still trailing by the same 13-7 halftime lead they faced heading into the locker room, the Saints began a drive from their own 20 late in the third quarter.
By the time Trinity reached a fourth and 10 from the Rebels’ 24 it was three minutes into the final period.
Saint coaches decided to go for it, calling a jump ball for 6-3 receiver Dudley Guice.
Quarterback Ryan Rachal lobbed an underthrown pass up toward the goal line that Heidelberg safety Dusty Bass undercut to pick of his second interception of the afternoon.
&uot;We were just hoping (Trinity) hadn’t seen a defense like ours,&uot; said Bass, who along with cornerback Ian Sharp, helped to double Guice all game. &uot;The defense did it for us today.&uot;
The Rebels drove the length of the field from their own 5, soaking up more than five of the final 12 minutes.
Chris Kittrell, who carried six times for 15 yards, scored up the gut from 3 yards out to add the final layer of icing.
&uot;You can’t (commit turnovers), especially in the state championship game, especially against a team like Heidelberg,&uot; said Guice, who scored the Saints’ only two scores. &uot;We had dropped balls, fumbled four times &045; we didn’t smell like we wanted it like 2001. We had five guys out there that wanted and six that didn’t.&uot;
Rachal’s second pick of the game negated a possible drive where Trinity attempted to retake the lead.
On second and 7 from the Rebels’ 47 Rachal rolled left, as Heidelberg end J.R. Stephenson applied the pressure. On a hurried throw, Rachal launched a pass short of intended receiver Zach Rogel, allowing Derek Griffin to step in front for the pick at his own 33 and returned it to the 40.
Saints head coach David King, with two timeouts remaining kept both of them in his pocket, electing to concede the first half to the Rebels.
&uot;We were sprinting into (the locker room),&uot; King said. &uot;We had so many turnovers in that first half, we had to regroup certainly. If we could’ve held onto the football, we might’ve been able to beat them. With seven turnovers we were lucky to stay around.&uot;
After Trinity took an opening 7-0 lead on a 44-yard touchdown completion to Guice and Heidelberg responded with a 42-yard touchdown pass of its own, the Saints’ offense turned inept.
Trinity saw three straight offensive possessions end in turnovers.
The Rebels had great field position each time after a blocked punt, Rachal’s first pick to Bass and a forced fumble, which Brody Bustin hopped on, yet no points came of the Trinity flubs.
&uot;I have no idea what happened out there,&uot; Saint running back/cornerback Gregory Ketchings said. &uot;You can’t do that in any game, but especially not here. It wasn’t the pressure. We just didn’t come to play.&uot;