Linebacker’s heroics sets up overtime homecoming win
Published 1:15 am Saturday, October 4, 2014
NATCHEZ — Cathedral linebacker James Allen Coley wasn’t going to let Lumberton take his perfect season away in a 35-34 Green Wave victory Friday night.
With the game tied 27-27 and the final seconds counting down, Lumberton quarterback Daylon Burk found Jonathan Walley, who made Coley miss, turned it up the field and sprinted down the sidelines as time expired. Coley chased him, took an angle and knocked Walley out of bounds at the 4-yard line to send the game into overtime.
“Honestly, that was my guy who caught the pass, and I missed the tackle,” Coley said. “If I would have done what I was supposed to the first time, it wouldn’t have been that way.”
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Coley’s number would be dialed up again in overtime, except this time on offense. After a miraculous 30-yard touchdown reception by Javier Chavis on 4th-and-30, Cathedral answered right back with a 9-yard touchdown run to pull within one in overtime. Cathedral head coach Ron Rushing elected to go for the two points and the win, dialing up a tight end pass to Coley, who made his third reception of the year on a game-winning two-point conversion.
“Coley plays as hard as anybody I’ve ever coached,” said Rushing after the 35-34 win. “It doesn’t surprise me that he’s the one who knocked him out of bounds.”
Lumberton jumped to an early lead over the Green Wave, scoring the first 13 points of the game on long passes. Cathedral went down at the half 19-7, and Lumberton quarterback Joe Arnold had 175 yards passing and three touchdowns at the half. Fleming only had 20 total yards, while Wyatt Boothe had 15 yards passing at the half. Fleming rallied his teammates around him and challenged them.
“I told my team before we came back out at halftime that I was going to give my all to them, and they had to give their all to me,” Fleming said.
Fleming and the Green Wave answered with a 71-yard touchdown pass from Boothe to Fleming in the third quarter, pulling the Green Wave within five. A 2-yard run by Boothe in the third quarter would put the Green Wave on top 21-19, but Lumberton struck back on the ensuing possession. Lumberton’s Daylon Burk moved to quarterback and found Arnold on a 54-yard touchdown pass with seven minutes remaining in the game. Lumberton head coach Brian Ford said the decision to move Burk to quarterback was made to exploit Cathedral’s defense with the zone read offense.
“That was something we worked on, and we thought we could utilize it because he can throw the long ball too,” Ford said.
Fleming, who finished the game with 79 rushing yards, 90 yards receiving and four total touchdowns, tied the game with two minutes left on a 37-yard run. However, the extra point that would have given Cathedral the lead was nullified by a chop block, and the PAT was unsuccessful after the penalty.
Following the dramatic overtime conclusion, Rushing said a lot of the blown coverages and missed blocking assignments in the game can be credited to one of the worst weeks of practices he’s had.
“Everybody is telling them how good we are, and we’re taking it for granted,” Rushing said. “We played terrible, but we found a way to win.”
Cathedral was outgained in the loss 395 yards to 320. After only throwing for 15 yards in the first half, Boothe finished the game with 125 yards, two total touchdowns and an interception. Christian Jenkins had 65 rushing yards on 16 carries, and Will Wallace had three tackles for loss.
Cathedral improves to 6-0 with the win, while Lumberton falls to 4-2.