Green Wave roar back in final minute to beat the Pioneers

Published 12:10 am Saturday, September 11, 2021

NATCHEZ — Three game altering plays were made in the span of about 48 seconds in Cathedral’s 21-20 victory over Parklane Academy. 

Two defensive stops and a bad snap turned the Parklane marching band from chanting “I believe that we will win” into a hushed silence. 

After Cathedral turned the ball over on downs with 1:20 to go in the game, the Green Wave defense came up with a huge stop. Using three timeouts, head coach Chuck Darbonne saved enough time on the clock for his team to return a punt after the defense stopped a third and short.

The Green Wave never got the chance as the ball was snapped high above the Parklane punter’s head. He ran to pick it up inside the five and was tackled at the one. 

With 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Cathedral had found life as the sidelined jumped onto the field in celebration. Darbonne said several things ran through his mind on that play. 

“There was the excitement of it, you see it and hope it’s not a safety,” Darbonne said.” Since it was inside the five, it put us in a great situation. It was one of those odd things where the ball bounced our way.” 

Cathedral stepped up to the line of scrimmage and punched it in on a one yard rush by Kaden Batieste. His offensive line deserved the biggest praise in the game, he said. They created holes for him to run through and on his winning touchdown run, they gave him the push he needed to get in the endzone. His arm stretched out with the ball and that is how he got in the endzone, he said.

The game wasn’t over as Parklane drove the field getting inside the 10. Batieste came up with a big stop in the endzone to force a turnover on downs with 2.8 seconds left. While covering one receiver, he ran into another Parklane receiver and broke up the pass. 

“We had to step up on the goalline, that is where championships are won at,” Batieste said. “I knew if they were going to catch it we would lose the ball game. We both went for the ball and ran into each other. I knew we had won when I heard the ball hit the ground.”

Cathedral had come out in the second half with a vengeance. Quarterback Noah Russ found Christian Wright wide open and streaking down the field. He hit him on a 70-yard pass. Cathedral tied the game 14-14 with Parklane with 5:35 in the 3Q.

Parklane regained the lead with about a 7-yard touchdown pass to make it 20-14 with 5:36 to go in the fourth quarter. Cathedral’s defense came up big when they stopped the two point conversion. They played a game of bend but don’t break, Darbonne said. 

“We were able to take away a couple of things after halftime,” Darbonne said. “I think if our kids are in the right position they are going to make the right football play. Getting lined up properly was the biggest thing for us.” 

Russ had a touchdown earlier in the game when he found Harper Jones on a 12-yard fade route to make the game 8-7 in the second quarter. 

As Russ took a knee under center, the Cathedral sideline exploded onto the field throwing helmets up into the air. One fan told Darbonne after the game in his 64 years of watching football at Cathedral that the game was the best one he had seen. 

Darbonne was very animated in his post game speech to his team and thanked the sideline for how much energy they brought to the game. 

“I was proud of the way they played. This is the most amazing victory we have had in my six years,” Darbonne said. “I’m proud of the heart they played with. I’m proud of our whole team. This was a complete team victory. They never lost faith and kept the excitement up. I think it inspired the guys on the field.”