Ferriday can’t take down streaking OCS

Published 12:10 am Saturday, November 7, 2015

FERRIDAY — The Ferriday Trojans took the reigning state champion and Class 2A District 2 champions Ouachita Christian School Eagles to the limit, but in the end of a 23-14 contest, the Eagles soared to an undefeated district record.

“It’s been a barnburner every week in the district,” said OCS head coach Steven Fitzhugh, whose team is now 9-1 and 5-0 in district. “It’s been a dog fight, and we knew tonight would be another one. Ferriday has a great ball team, and this one came down to the end. It was a good battle by both teams tonight.”

Fitzhugh’s club jumped on the Trojans late in the first quarter when running back Josh Pennebaker scored one of his three rushing touchdowns. Ferriday later answered with an 8-yard touchdown run from running back Milak Hampton to tie the game 6-6 in the second quarter. After Pennebaker found paydirt again, the Trojans answered late in the quarter when quarterback Ronald Williams connected with Ja’Shon Foster on a 25-yard score. After a successful two-point conversion by Williams, the Trojans led 14-13. With less than two minutes to go in the half, the Eagles had another scoring opportunity.

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OCS quarterback Grant Fitzhugh converted two third down conversions with passes to John Ivan Morris and Bryce Wallace before OCS made it to Ferriday’s 20-yard line with 50 seconds remaining. Two plays later, the ball snapped over the head of Fitzhugh and Ferriday defender Dominique Jackson recovered the fumble, ending the half.

The Eagles took less than a minute after the break to regain the lead. On a 59-second scoring drive, the Eagles rushed the ball three times for 59 yards and the go-ahead score. As Ferriday defensive end Dantrieze Scott left the game after reinjuring his sprained ankle, Pennebaker bounced a run outside and went 44 yards to give OCS a 20-14 advantage.

“That hurt us,” Woods said. “A lot of the stuff that we do, I think we could have stopped some of the runs they made. It’s hard to replace that type of kid, but the kids that went in made a valiant effort.”

Pennebaker finished the game with 196 rushing yards on 26 carries. In total, OCS ran for 252 yards in the win.

“There’s no secret, that’s where we try to hang our hat,” Fitzhugh said. “We try to use our big offensive line, and they certainly opened up some big holes tonight, and Josh ran hard.”

The OCS defense was stingy in the second half. As the rain poured heavily late in the third quarter, the Eagles made one fourth down, short-yardage stop after another. OCS stopped Ferriday on two fourth-and-1 conversions in the second half, and the only other time the Trojans threatened near the red zone, Williams fumbled the snap and turned the ball over to the Eagles.

“We’re just making mistakes at the end,” Woods said. “We’re right there. I’m not going to complain about the effort. The kids played their hearts out and did all they can do, but we just have to clean up some stuff. The blame will be on me if there’s blame to go around.”

Williams completed 9 of his 23 passes in the game for 148 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also led the team on the ground with 64 yards on 18 carries.

Though Ferriday lost, the Trojans are still projected to host a playoff game Friday as a Top 16 seed.

Woods saw the silver-lining in the loss that made the Trojans 5-5 on the season — recognizing that Ferriday played in tight games in the toughest district in the class.

“Our kids got to see why they are state champions, and one thing about it is we realize we can play with anybody,” Woods said.