Cathedral muscles around Pelahatchie, wins 42-13

Published 12:02 am Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cathedral ’s Christian Jenkins runs with the ball against Pelahatchie High School during their second round game of the MHSAA Class 1A South State playoffs. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Cathedral ’s Christian Jenkins runs with the ball against Pelahatchie High School during their second round game of the MHSAA Class 1A South State playoffs. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Games like Cathedral’s 42-13 win against Pelahatchie make Cathedral head coach Ron Rushing happy he has a variety of skill players to choose from offensively.

More specifically, Rushing was glad he could call on running back Christian Jenkins to put his helmet down and muscle his way into the end zone for three rushing touchdowns.

“He’s a bulldozer,” Rushing said. “They game planned up to stop Dee (Fleming), and when they’re doing something to stop him, it opens things up for (Jenkins).”

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Jenkins could tell by the tone of the game that his number would be called upon to get the tough yards, and he embraced his role.

“This is it,” Jenkins said. “Ground and pound, I’m built for it.”

Jenkins rushed for 59 yards, but it was quarterback Wyatt Boothe who led the team in rushing with 127 yards on 23 carries.

Meanwhile, Cathedral’s defense limited Pelahatchie to only 36 rushing yards in the game. Cathedral opened up the game by stuffing the Chiefs on three consecutive plays and forcing them to punt after gaining negative two yards.

Rushing seized the advantage of the created momentum. On his first offensive possession after the stop, he lined up in a trips right formation with three receivers lined up behind each other. Wide receiver R.J. Givens lined up at tight end, and Boothe dropped back to pass and hit a wide-open Givens over the middle for a 31-yard pass. The play sparked an eventual 11-yard touchdown run by Jenkins that would allow Cathedral to take a 7-0 lead with eight minutes to play in the first.

“That definitely set the tone,” Rushing said.

Cathedral struck again on the first play in the second quarter when Boothe hit Dee Fleming for a 14-yard touchdown pass. Fleming recorded 34 rushing yards on 10 attempts and had 21 receiving yards in the game.

Whenever Pelahatchie started mounting any momentum offensively, Cathedral’s defense would create a turnover. The Green Wave defense forced three fumbles and picked off Pelahatchie quarterback Tony Beeman three times.

Cathedral’s defense held Pelahatchie to only 36 yards rushing, forcing the Chiefs to throw the ball 29 times. Rushing expected the Chiefs to only throw it six or seven times going into the game, but said his rush defense changed everything.

And while it looked like Cathedral was going to run away with the game after a one-yard Boothe rush before the half ended, the Chiefs found new life in the third, turning a controversial fumble call into six points. What appeared to be an incomplete pass to Fleming was ruled a fumble, and following the score, Pelahatchie kicked an onside kick and recovered it.

The Chiefs cashed in a minute later with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Beeman to Al Jones, reducing Cathedral’s lead to eight.

Meanwhile, Cathedral’s offense was stiffened by penalties, having a touchdown pass to Will Sandel and a touchdown run by Fleming called back for miscues at the line of scrimmage. Cathedral finished with six penalties in the game.

Cathedral finally made the most of forcing a turnover midway through the fourth by cashing in from 25 yards out, and going up 28-13.

Jenkins went on to score another touchdown, and Cathedral added another after a 28-yard R.J. Givens interception return for a touchdown with 29 seconds remaining.

Cathedral will host Nanih Waiya at 7 p.m. Friday in a semifinal matchup.