Can’t assume anything with prep football

Published 12:01 am Sunday, October 5, 2014

Have you ever watched a game and repeatedly said in the back of your mind, “I’ve seen this one before, I know exactly how this will play out?”

That was yours truly at Cathedral’s homecoming clash against Lumberton last night. Turns out my processor upstairs was filing this game in all the wrong places.

The first of many wrong assumptions was the 21-19 lead Cathedral gained after Wyatt Boothe scored on a 2-yard run with eight minutes to play in the game.

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“Cathedral has regained the momentum. This one should be the Green Wave’s for the rest of the way.”

Barely a minute later, Lumberton’s Joe Arnold was sprinting down the Panthers sideline for a go-ahead score.

I knew enough about Cathedral to know this team would respond. Dee Fleming validated that confidence when he scored from nine yards out with two minutes to play, tying the game at 27.

“Extra point puts Cathedral ahead for a fun homecoming win. It’s up, it’s good, and wait a minute, what’s the flag for?”

A chop block nullified the extra point, and the try after the penalty failed, leaving the game tied at 27.

Then, the play happened. After converting a fourth down conversion, Lumberton’s Daylon Burke hit Jonathan Walley, who made James Allen Coley and other Green Wave defenders miss as he scurried down the sideline.

Once he passed the 10-yard line, I glanced at the clock, which struck zero seconds.

“Wow, I can’t believe this game is going to end like this. What an unbelievable fini…”

Interrupting that thought was Coley, who came out of nowhere and not only scrambled Walley’s brain, but mine as well. Leveling Walley out of bounds at the 4-yard line to save the games is one of the most dramatic ways I’ve seen a game turn.

So bring on overtime. I’m through assuming, or so I assumed.

After a sack by Will Wallace and multiple penalties were committed, Lumberton faced a 4th-and-30 in the first overtime period.

“Forward thinking suggests if Cathedral gets at least five yards on this next possession (each overtime series start at the 10-yard line in high school), they will kick a field goal and win this game. Lumberton’s Hail Mary is up, and Jardarius Anderson is batting the ball down. Pretty much ball game…”

In one of those “you have to see it to believe it” moments, the referee raised his hands, signaling a touchdown. What ended up happening on that crazy play was this: Anderson knocked the ball down onto the intended target who fell to the ground and holstered the ball on his side with his left hand on the way down. The ball never touches the ground, and against seemingly insurmountable odds, Lumberton goes up 34-27 in overtime.

Cathedral answered quickly with a 9-yard Fleming touchdown run.

“Looks like Ron will go for the win here. Let’s see how he gets Fleming the ball. Ron likes to think players not plays, and Fleming’s four total touchdowns thus far give a pretty good indication of where he wants to go with the ball.”

Meanwhile, little did I know, Coley was in the huddle lobbying for a speed sweep play with Anderson. Rushing had a better idea, as he called on a passing play that would take Lumberton’s focus away from the middle and leave Coley wide open. The play worked to perfection as Boothe found Coley in the back of the end zone for a 35-34 Green Wave victory.

Games are most fun when they toy with your emotions, when they keep you guessing what will happen next. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something you’ve never seen before transpires.

Perhaps that’s why it’s so much fun to assume an outcome when you know deep down this sport will give you the craziest outcomes imaginable.



JAKE MARTIN is the sports editor for The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3633 or