CHS advances to South State

Published 12:29 am Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cathedral’s Carl Hammitte catches a pass while being guarded by Nanih Waiya’s Martin Johnson during their playoff game Friday night at Cathedral. (Eric Shelton \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — The Cathedral School football team dominated the first half in Friday night’s MHSAA 1A second-round playoff matchup with Nanih Waiya. But, the Green Wave had to survive a second-half comeback by the Warriors to hold on to win 33-19 and advance to the South State Championship Game.

“It was a great win,” Cathedral head coach Ron Rushing said. “We set several goals at the beginning of the season, and playing for South State was one.

“They came out here and played extremely well early, and I had some bad play calling in the second half.”

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Cathedral sprinted out of the gate with two touchdowns in the first and second quarters.

Cathedral took the opening drive of the game 80 yards in 13 plays. A 9-yard touchdown pass from Caleb Upton to Khalil Brice capped the drive. The extra point failed, and Cathedral led 6-0.

Cathedral scored again with 2:58 to go in the first quarter when Upton found Tyler Flemming for an 18-yard touchdown strike. The two-point pass failed to put the Green Wave up 12-0 at the end of one period.

Upton threw for 251 yards and four touchdowns in the first half alone. He finished his night with 271 yards on 22-48 passing. He also ran for 51 yards

“It wasn’t so much me throwing the ball well,” Upton said. “I just put it where our guys could make plays. Everybody made plays.”

Upton’s main target was Carl Hammitte, who caught seven passes for 126 yards and one score. Daniel Huffines caught five passes for 45 yards and one touchdown.

The second quarter saw Cathedral’s defense continue its domination of the Nanih Waiya offense, while the Green Wave offense put up two more scores.

The Cathedral defense forced three punts and two turnovers in the first half.

Cathedral stretched its lead to 20-0 with 4:32 to go in the second quarter when Upton found Hammitte for a 30-yard touchdown. Jadarius Ealey ran the two-point conversion.

Cathedral capped the first-half scoring with just four seconds to go when Upton found Huffines for an 8-yard score. The two-point run failed giving the Green Wave a 26-0 halftime lead.

Nanih Waiya threatened to score just once in the first half. The Warriors advanced the ball to the Cathedral 13-yard line before Flemming stripped the ball from running back Martin Johnson and returned it 27 yards. That turnover set up Cathedral’s final touchdown of the half.

The Warriors came out motivated in the second half however, and Cathedral’s offense sputtered early.

Nanih Waiya advanced the ball to the Green Wave 7-yard line on its first possession of the half before Huffines recovered another fumble by Johnson.

The Warriors got the ball back after a Cathedral punt, and scored two plays later on a 39-yard run by Johnson with 7:37 left in the third quarter.

Cathedral’s offense was slowed again on its next possession and forced to punt.

Nanih Waiya put together another drive and again moved the ball into the red zone before turning it over. This time it was an interception by Cathedral’s Kyle Bradley that stopped the Warriors’ drive.

The Warriors ended the night with seven turnovers.

Nanih Waiya would bring the score closer mid-way through the fourth quarter when quarterback Dustin Carter found Luke Rosamond for a 27-yard touchdown pass. Rosamond added the extra point to make the score 26-13.

After that score, Ealey put the struggling Cathedral offense on his back.

Ealey ran for 65 yards on two carries on Cathedral’s next possession. He capped off the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run. He finished the night with 133 yards on 16 carries. The Lee Fairbanks extra point made the score 33-13.

Nanih Waiya added a late touchdown on a 60-yard run by Jamarlo Smith to bring the score to 33-19.

Cathedral put up 509 yards of offense in the game while allowing 408 to Nanih Waiya. Much of the Warriors’ yards came from Johnson, who ran for 188 yards on 26 carries.

The win puts Cathedral just one win away from playing for the state title.

“It feels great, absolutely great,” Rushing said.

Cathedral will play for the South State title on the road next week against Noxapater.