Cathedral win was exciting, shocking

Published 12:01 am Sunday, September 18, 2011

When Daniel Huffines caught the game-winning touchdown for Cathedral High School Friday night, I just stared in disbelief.

I also uttered a couple of words to myself expressing my disbelief, so hopefully the Rev. John Brock was too busy getting excited about his Green Wave to hear me.

If Father Brock were still here to witness last Friday’s win in person, there’s no doubt in my mind he would have been the first to tell the Green Wave players and coaches how proud he was of their efforts.

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That’s because the Green Wave’s 36-33 come-from-behind win against Stringer High School looked quite unlikely at first.

Cathedral head coach Ron Rushing would probably be the first to admit that his team struggled containing the Red Devils’ running game. The Green Wave seemed to especially have a problem with Stringer’s quarterback-keeper play, where Tevin Moore would seem to get at least 5 yards per carry every time he ran it.

With 11:50 left in the fourth quarter, Moore ran his second touchdown of the night, a 32-yard carry, to give Stringer a 33-14 lead. Down three touchdowns and having difficulty stopping the Red Devils’ offense, Cathedral’s chances looked less than slim.

Then, the magic started to happen, and Cathedral ultimately proved why it is a serious contender for the MHSAA Class 1A state championship this season.

Huffines caught a 7-yard touchdown pass with 10:26 left to cut the Stringer lead to two touchdowns. Cathedral then kicked the ball deep into Stringer territory, hoping to stall the Red Devils and get the ball back.

At first, it wasn’t looking good. Stringer marched down the field behind its potent running game, eating minutes upon minutes of the clock. When the Red Devils’ drive started, there was 10:25 left on the clock. When Cathedral finally stopped Stringer on fourth down, there was 1:53 remaining.

It only took two plays, though, to get the Green Wave within striking distance of a miracle. Cathedral quarterback Caleb Upton threw to Carl Hammitte for a 28-yard catch, then found Tyler Flemming on a 45-yard touchdown reception.

After the touchdown, Cathedral needed to get the ball back to have any chance. The onside kick was inevitable — but the players and coaches were confident. In particular, I’ll never forget the words of Cathedral assistant coach Kurt Russ: “If we get the ball back, we’ll win.”

Quite prophetic, if you ask me.

The Green Wave recovered the onside kick, and after an incomplete pass on first down, Upton scrambled away from several Stringer defenders and found Huffines for a 56-yard touchdown pass.

The Green Wave was just a defensive stop away from an amazing win, and on third down on Stringer’s ensuing drive, an Ishmael Blackmon interception ended the Red Devils’ chances.

It was easily the best high school football game I’ve covered in my admittedly limited time as a sports writer. But I don’t anticipate many more wins as crazy as Friday night’s was.

Neither Upton nor Rushing could believe what just happened, even after the clock ticked down to zero and the team celebrated moving to 4-0 on the season, 2-0 in Region 4-1A.

I couldn’t believe it either, but neither anyone else’s belief nor mine was necessary. Just a blessing from Father Brock — and he didn’t disappoint.