Field-length interception gives St. Al win over rival

Published 1:44 am Saturday, September 22, 2007

VICKSBURG — Brendan Beesley saw the pass route forming and made a break. The ball settled into the Port Gibson resident’s hands just outside the St. Aloysius 1-yard line and off he went.

Beesley tiptoed the sideline, sidestepped several Cathedral defenders and when he finally came to a stop he was in the Cathedral end zone getting mobbed by teammates.

Beesley’s 99-yard interception return highlighted a 32-27 St. Aloysius (2-2) victory over its fiercest rivals from Natchez. The victory is the second in a row for the Flashes, who evened their Region 3-1A record to 2-2 as well.

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“I was watching his eyes the whole way and got the ball,” Beesley said. “I’ve been taught heart my whole life, to run as fast as I could and not stop. That’s what I did.”

Beesley’s interception return capped a Flashes’ defensive effort that saw Cathedral get within the St. Al 10-yard line on consecutive drives only to come away empty-handed.

Trailing 25-21, Cathedral faced a fourth-and-2 at the 5-yard line. The Flashes’ defense stopped running back Jessie Morrison giving possession back to St. Al.

On the Flashes’ first play from scrimmage, Cathedral’s Blase Bradford stripped quarterback Chris Lewis of the ball giving possession back to the Irish. A 1-yard run and an incomplete pass set up a third-and-goal at the Flashes’ 7. Irish quarterback Preston Edwards, who completed 12 of 33 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns, rolled to the right and fired toward the corner of the end zone where Beesley picked off the pass and headed to pay dirt.

“Our defense stepped up when we needed to,” St. Al’s Price Blagg said. “It’s all heart.”

Even with the 12-point lead, the game was far from over. Cathedral scored on a 38-yard hook-and-lateral play with 1 minute, 26 seconds to play in the game and went for a 2-point conversion that would have pulled the Irish to within three points, but the Flashes’ defense held again.

Justin Hosemann recovered the onsides kick and Lewis ran for a first down before the Flashes ran out the clock.

“We could have given in several times tonight,” St. Al coach Jim Taylor said. “What did we have, three stops inside the 5 yard line?”

Lewis finished with 129 yards rushing on 15 carries and a touchdown, and also completed 7 of 11 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown pass to Beesley.

Cathedral scored on its first play from scrimmage, a 69-yard touchdown pass from Edwards to Jamerson Jones for a quick 7-0 lead.

Chip Donald and Clayton Holmes each had touchdown runs in the first half as the Flashes went into the break 13-7.

Cathedral opened the second with a 23-yard scoring strike from Edwards to Daniel Jenkins for a 14-13 lead. Jones added a 3-yard TD plunge to put the Irish up 21-13 late in the third quarter.

St. Al got within two points on Beesley’s touchdown reception, then added the next two scores in the fourth quarter.

“It’s always special when you beat Cathedral,” Beesley said.

By Sean P. Murphy, The Vicksburg Post