Vidalia fumbles away win

Published 1:31 am Saturday, October 25, 2008

VIDALIA — With a 20-0 lead in the fourth quarter, the game was all but won for Vidalia. Unfortunately for the Vikings, three straight lost fumbles led to an unbelievable comeback by the Buckeye Panthers, who took a 27-20 District 3-3A win over the Vikings.

Vidalia (2-5, 1-2) cruised through the first half with no problems and a 20-0 lead at the half.

Viking quarterback Caleb Vines threw three touchdowns in the first two quarters, two to Dee Fleming and one to Marvin Payne.

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Vines led all passers with an 8-for-12 effort for 155 yards and three touchdowns.

Vidalia continued to roll and held the Panthers at bay in the third quarter.

Things got messy when Viking tailback Kevin Johnson fumbled the ball with 8:57 left in the game and Buckeye recovered the ball.

The Panthers scored a quick touchdown on a Blade Driggers touchdown run and cut the lead to 14.

Vidalia then fumbled again with 6:38 to go, and the Panthers recovered again on the 11-yard line.

Driggers ran for a touchdown on the first play, and Buckeye immediately found themselves within one score of taking the lead.

What seemed to be a simple task of holding on to the ball continued to be a problem for the Vikings, as they fumbled yet again and gave the ball back to Buckeye on the Viking 45-yard line.

“Having no fullback there at the end really hurt us,” Vidalia coach Dee Faircloth said. “We couldn’t get any blocking.”

Seven plays later, the Panthers took a 27-20 lead on a Chris Barbat touchdown run.

Vidalia finally held on to the ball and drove down the field when Vines went out for a play after being roughed up.

Backup quarterback Mason Ozburn went into the game and threw an interception to give Buckeye the ball and ultimately the game.

“We ran out of personnel,” Faircloth said. “It was a complete collapse and poor coaching on my part.”

“The defense played harder and the momentum shifted our way,” Buckeye coach Buster Duplissey said.

Vidalia travels next week to face Avoyelles High School.