Cathedral takes title, douses Rushing

Published 12:52 am Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cathedral’s Jadarius Ealey and Khalil Brice sack University Christian School’s Caleb Shufelt for a loss during the second half of the Green Wave’s 60-30 win over the Flames. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Cathedral football coach Ron Rushing got an ice bath on an already chilly night Friday after his Green Wave secured its second-straight district championship with a 60-30 win over University Christian at Devereaux Stadium.

“It’s like I said the other day, we snuck up on people last year, but this year we had the bull’s-eye on our backs, not just in the district, but statewide,” Rushing said.

Cathedral fell behind 7-0 early in the game after an interception by University Christian’s Javous Nicks on the Green Wave’s second offensive play of the game gave the Flames the ball on Cathedral’s 16-yard line.

Eight plays later, the Flames punched the ball in the end zone on a 1-yard run by Adam McPhail.

“We started out slow,” Rushing said. “These guys had 19 seniors, and we knew they would come ready to play, and they showed up.”

But, Cathedral would regroup quickly to score the next 34 points of the contest.

Cathedral answered less than two minutes after University Christian’s score when running back J.D. Ealey scored on a 1-yard plunge to make the score 7-6. The extra point failed, and the Green Wave had to wait until its next possession to take the lead for good.

With 4:45 left in the first quarter, Caleb Upton found Khalil Brice for a 7-yard touchdown pass. Ealey ran in the two-point conversion to give the Green Wave a seven-point lead.

Brice ended his night with seven catches for 126 yards and three touchdowns. Rushing said he was pleased with Brice’s play.

“He played extremely well,” Rushing said. “He’s really found it in the last couple of games.”

Cathedral added another touchdown before the end of the first quarter when Upton found Daniel Huffines for a 50-yard touchdown pass. Lee Fairbanks added the extra point, and Cathedral led 21-7 after one quarter.

The Green Wave would go on to score 26 points in the second quarter to take control of the contest.

Brice started the scoring in the second with a 36-yard reception from Upton. Carl Hammitte added a 46-yard interception return at the 7:54 mark in the second quarter.

University Christian was able to stop Cathedral’s consecutive-scoring run with a 15-yard touchdown run by Cody Grogan midway through the quarter. But Cathedral ended the half on two 7-yard touchdown receptions by Hammitte and Brice to bring the score to 47-14 at the break.

Upton finished the first half 18 for 29 passing for 283 yards and five touchdowns. He finished his night with 325 yards and six touchdown throws.

University Christian actually held Cathedral scoreless in the third quarter. The Flames scored all nine points in the quarter and forced a three-and-out on the Green Wave’s first possession of the period to make the score 47-23 at the end of three.

Cathedral would score on the first play of the fourth quarter, however, when Upton found Tyler Flemming on a 23-yard touchdown pass.

Backup quarterback Thomas Garrity got into the touchdown-throwing action with 6:38 to go in the game when he found Ishmael Blackmon on a screen pass that Blackmon took 47 yards for a score.

Fairbanks’ kick made it 60-23.

Grogan added a 5-yard run for University Christian to end the scoring with 3:26 left in the game. Grogan finished with 183 yards rushing on 19 carries and three touchdowns.

Cathedral’s offense did most of its damage through the air Friday night. The two Green Wave quarterbacks combined for 372 yards and seven touchdowns. Ealey led Cathedral’s ground game with 60 of the 77 total rushing yards.

Rushing said his offense took what University Christian was giving in the first half, and that led to some big plays in the passing game.

“That’s just kind of what it turned out to be,” he said. “We kept them blocked and hit some big plays.”

Cathedral connected for four passes over 30 yards in the first half.

Flemming also had a big night receiving the ball for the Green Wave. He caught five passes for 98 yards and one touchdown. Huffines caught four passes for 71 yards and one score.

The Green Wave defense struggled at times Friday night and gave up 30 points on 334 total yards. But the Cathedral defense also forced six University Christian turnovers and scored one touchdown.

Cathedral will head into the first round of the MHSAA-1A playoffs as the top seed from District 4-1A.

“We are 0-0 now,” Rushing said. “We put all this behind us. But it’s good that the last two games we have been playing well.”