Cathedral gambles in 32-27 win over St. Al

Published 2:08 am Saturday, October 7, 2017

By Ernest Bowker

The Vicksburg Post

VICKSBURG — Gambling can be quite the destructive vice. In the “Holy War” game between Catholic school rivals Cathedral and St. Aloysius, it was the key to victory.

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Cathedral rolled the dice and went for it four times on fourth down in the second half. It converted each time and went on to score three touchdowns on those drives, leading to a 32-27 victory.

“By the time that we called it early on I wasn’t as confident calling it, but later on as the game went on I thought that we were starting to physically wear on them. I thought if we could get some push inside and get some lane we’d make first downs since we were inside two yards,” Cathedral coach Chuck Darbonne said.

The Green Wave (5-3) snapped a three-game losing streak by beating St. Al (2-6) for the ninth consecutive time. St. Al hasn’t beaten its rival from Natchez since 2009.

St. Al can still win a share of the District 3-AAA championship by winning its last two games at Hillcrest and Riverfield, but is more likely to make the MAIS Class AAA playoffs as a wild card.

“We put all the marbles on the table and just go for it and see what happens,” St. Al coach Michael Fields said of the approach to the last two weeks of the regular season.

The game was an ugly 7-7 tie at halftime, but turned into an offensive shootout in the last two quarters. The two teams scored seven touchdowns on 12 combined possessions.

St. Al’s Antonio Thompson threw a pair of TD passes to Ryan Theriot and also ran for two scores. Thompson had 208 passing yards and 69 rushing yards in the game, while Theriot caught four passes for 72 yards and the two TDs.

The Flashes were outdone by Cathedral’s Greg Moore. The senior running back had 211 of the Green Wave’s 256 rushing yards — including 172 in the second half — and three touchdowns.

Moore had a 31-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, one play after he picked up two yards to convert a fourth-and-one. He also had a 56-yard score that gave Cathedral the lead for good, 26-21, with 7:58 left in the game.

“He’s fighting through an leg injury right now. He’s not even full speed. That just makes his performance in the second half 10 times better than it looked,” Darbonne said.

Moore converted another key fourth down later in the fourth quarter. With the Green Wave facing fourth-and-1 from the St. Al 44-yard line, Moore ran for four yards up the middle to move the chains. Two plays later, quarterback J.T. Taylor ripped off a 39-yard touchdown run to make it 32-21.

“I was hoping they would punt the ball, because I felt pretty comfortable that we were going to score,” Fields said with a chuckle.

St. Al got the ball back with 2:53 left in the game and answered the bell. Thompson completed 6 of 9 passes on a 10-play scoring drive and finished it off with a 6-yard run around the right edge to pull the Flashes within five, 32-27.

His two-point conversion pass fell incomplete, however, and the Flashes were unable to recover an onsides kick with 1:17 to go. Cathedral took a couple of knees and ran out the clock.

“Our problem, like always, is we just don’t have that depth up front. They got a little tired and they kept smashing with the running back and finally busted some good runs on us in the second half,” Fields said. “We did a good job in the first half. But when you don’t have the depth and guys going both ways, there’s nothing you can do about it. Especially with the injuries that we have.”