Mississippi roundups: WCCA’s season ends

Published 12:34 am Saturday, November 12, 2011

WOODVILLE — Too many unforced mistakes at the worst possible times of the game cost Wilkinson County Christian Academy not only the game, but the season as well.

An interception return at the end of the first half, a fumble return after a bad snap over the punter’s head and a costly penalty by the offense were some of the key plays that hurt WCCA as the Rams fell to the Riverfield Academy Raiders 18-14 Friday night in the semifinals of the MAIS Class A South State Playoffs.

“We just made too many mistakes. Against a good team like Riverfield, you can’t give them too many opportunities,” WCCA head coach Ray McDaniel said.

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Duncan Ashley recovered a Riverfield fumble in the end zone for a touchdown and Taylor Prevost’s extra point made it 7-0 in favor of the Rams at the 5:10 mark of the first quarter.

And the Rams appeared to be on their way to taking that lead into halftime. But instead of taking a knee to preserve that lead, they threw the ball. And that was the first of several untimely errors. Logan Cantu picked off Prevost’s pass and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown as time expired in the first half. The extra point was no good, so the Rams went into the half leading 7-6.

Unfortunately for WCCA, special teams proved to be a huge factor in the outcome of this game. Tyler Hamby returned the opening kickoff of the second half 78 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion was no good, but Riverfield had its first lead of the game at 12-7.

The Rams regained the lead with 7:58 to go in the third quarter when Kaleb Sterling scored on a 28-yard run. Prevost made the extra point to give them a 14-12 lead. They would have added to their lead early in the fourth quarter, but a penalty negated a 55-yard touchdown run by Tramel McKinsey scored on a 55-yard run.

A few possessions later, WCCA was prepared to punt the ball to Riverfield, but the snap went over punter Trenton Hall’s head. Travis Presley picked up the fumble and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown with 6:53 to go in the game. But again, the two-point conversion was no good and Riverfield had a 19-14 lead. And the Rams still had plenty of time to put together a game-winning drive.

“Mental mistakes. In a big game like this, you can’t have those. And we did,” McDaniel said. “The players feel sick about it. I feel bad for the seniors. I hate to have the season end like this.”

With 3:30 to go, WCCA looked like it was on its way to doing just that. The Rams picked up three first downs and had the ball at the Riverfield 12-yard line with just under a minute to go. Bt the Rams fumbled the ball, and Ben Sylvestri recovered it for the Raiders at their 13-yard line with just 36 seconds remaining.

WCCA (11-2) held Riverfield to just six first downs and 110 yards of total offense.

The Rams had 190 yards of total offense, with McKinsey having 101 yards on 27 carries.

“I’m proud of them. We had the most wins in school history. I can’t say enough about the team. Right now, everybody’s hurting. It didn’t end the way we wanted, but it was a successful season,” McDaniel said.

Forest 19, Franklin County 14

FOREST — Franklin County had its own share of untimely miscues as the Bulldogs saw their season come to an end at the hands of the defending Class 3A state champion Forest Bearcats 19-14 Friday night in the second round of the MHSAA Class 3A South State Playoffs.

Forest shut down Franklin County’s running game, giving up just 76 yards on 33 carries. And that forced the Bulldogs to become a passing team — something they’re not exactly used to being.

However, Jadarius Davis was more than up to the task. He connected with C.J. O’Quinn on a 19-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter, and the two hooked up again on a 69-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter that gave them a 14-7 lead.

Davis completed 8 of 17 passes for 178 yards and one interception. O’Quinn had two catches for 88 yards.

But a key turnover got Forest right back in the game late in the first half. The Bulldogs had the ball at midfield before a fumble was recovered by Forest. The Bearcats went to work on a six-play drive that ended with Tobias Lofton’s 4-yard touchdown run with 49 seconds to go until halftime. But the extra point was no good and the Bulldogs led at the half 14-13.

The Bearcats’ first score of the game was a 76-yard pass from Matthew Evans to Davion Beamon just 25 seconds into the ball game. Eric Moya made the extra point for an early 7-0 lead before the Bulldogs rallied to take the lead.

Just when it looked like Franklin County would have a chance to pull off the upset, a questionable penalty was called. Forest had the ball at the FC 37-yard line when the Bulldogs intercepted a pass early in the fourth quarter. However, the interception was wiped out when Franklin County was flagged for roughing the passer. The Bulldogs’ players and coaches did not agree with the call, but they were penalized 15 yards and the Bearcats had the ball at the FC 22-yard line.

Then on the very next play, Lofton scored what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown on a 22-yard run with 10:55 remaining. He finished with 105 yards on 29 carries with the two touchdowns.

Franklin County ended its season with a 9-4 record. Forest, ranked No. 5 in Class 3A, improved to 10-2 and will take on Seminary next Friday night.

Seminary 63, Wilkinson County 28

WOODVILLE — The first half of this MHSAA Class 3A South State second-round game was much closer than many people anticipated or even expected.

In fact, at halftime, Wilkinson County trailed heavily-favored Seminary just 21-14.

But the Bulldogs had too much firepower and it showed in the second half as the outscored the Wildcats 42-14 after halftime to advance to the next round.

Wilkinson County finished its season with a 6-6 record.