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|Vidalia-Ferriday Faircloth's No. 5 game|
Editor's note: Former Vidalia High football coach Dalton "Dee" Faircloth was head football coach at Vidalia High from 1969 to 2009.
Concordia Sentinel summer intern Jake Martin sat down with Faircloth and asked the longtime Viking coach to pick his top five football games from his 41-year career at the school.
This is the first of a five-part series.
Dee Faircloth coached the Vidalia Vikings football team for 41 years, so when it came time to reveal to his most memorable games, fans around the area had to know Vidalia versus Ferriday would make the list.
It was 1996, and the Vikings made their way onto Melz Field in what would be another Vidalia-Ferriday classic.
"Ain't no telling how much money Ferriday made on that game," Faircloth said. "It was a typical Ferriday versus Vidalia knockdown, drag-out game."
The Vikings jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead after Eric Whitley blocked a Ferriday punt and Glen Donald fell on it in the end zone.
Ferriday regained the lead after quarterback Adrian Bailey hooked up with Kerry Collier for a 68-yard touchdown pass and Robert James Lee broke loose on a 64-yard touchdown run.
Vidalia made a late surge and tied the game with 39 seconds left after quarterback Gregg Johnson hit Derrick Collins for a 9-yard touchdown pass.
"Glen Donald, who was a good kicker, came up, and he'd been pretty accurate all year long," Faircloth said. "I said, 'This is the ball game, we're going to win this thing 13-12.' Hey, he kicked that thing and missed it. You ought to heard that Ferriday crowd on film. You could have heard them in New York City."
"I think I hit a band member with that kick," Donald said. "Thank the good Lord we won, or we would have another game at No. 5."
The 5-foot-8 Donald may have missed on the extra point, but he didn't miss many tackles.
"I remember feeling like I was too quick for their big offensive linemen to block me," Donald said. "With guys playing behind me such as Eric Whitley, Prentis Jenkins, and Gregg Johnson, I was able to pin my ears back and just go hard every play. Coach used to tell me that all the time, 'Contain the edge, don't let anyone run outside of you, and pin your ears back.' That allowed me to just play as hard and fast as I could. Fortunately, I was able to make a big play in one of our biggest games."
The rival contest went to overtime, and Ferriday got the ball first on the 10-yard line per overtime rules. Faircloth said they went four-and-out and the Vidalia crowd went crazy. Vidalia got the ball on the 10 with a chance to win the game if they scored.
"The first play I put Eric Whitley in and did kind of like the 'Refrigerator' (William Perry) deal where you take a big guard and put him in the back field to block," Faircloth said. "Kobe Butler took it nine yards on first down to the one, and after we ran the same play again, he was able to punch it in. It was like a Super Bowl atmosphere, but that's any time Ferriday and Vidalia plays."
"I thought he was going to give the ball to me," Whitley said. "That's every big guy's dream, but either way, I knew we were going to score. It was just a basic wham play."
After the game, then Ferriday head coach Cordell Bailey told the Concordia Sentinel that the game was everything it was supposed to be.
"It was as good a football game as has been played around here in a while," Bailey said. "A defeat is much easier to take when you lose to a quality team like Vidalia."
Whitley said the win was also a moral victory for him because he had a number of relatives playing on the Ferriday team.
"Carlin Thomas, who was an outstanding player who went on to play at Louisiana Tech, is my cousin," Whitley said. "And Sterry Leonard played linebacker and fullback. He was tough. He liked to run it right up the middle and get hit. And I was glad to oblige him."
Whitley, who now works for James Construction in Baton Rouge, said Faircloth was a father figure to him.
"He taught me a lot of man skills," Whitley said. "He taught me how to always be positive and to work hard at everything I did."
Donald went into the coaching field following graduation.
"Coach Faircloth has played a big part of who I am today," he said. "I always knew I would get into coaching. I looked up to those guys and thought they had the greatest kind of life. I took pride in being a football player for him during a great stretch of Vidalia Viking Football. Coach made me want to be the toughest guy on the field regardless of my size. It's all about heart. I could only hope to have the effect on so many lives in a positive way in my coaching career as our great coach did."
Faircloth said picking his fifth most memorable game was tough because he had a hard time picking between this game and another.
"I had my doubts about that fifth game, because we had a game against Jena in 2003 where we came from behind to win."
The Vikings were undefeated when Jena came to town and found themselves battling adversity late in the game.
Jena led Vidalia 40-22 with 2:26 remaining in the third quarter.
"We were trailing by three touchdowns in the fourth quarter and came back to win that ballgame," Faircloth said. "That was one of the most dangdest things I'd ever seen. That was incredible and it kept us unbeaten. I never saw a team come back from that far down in the fourth quarter"
After a 70-yard touchdown pass from Tony Hawkins to C.J. Williams, the Vikings took a 44-40 lead with 3:28 left remaining in the game. But even more craziness ensued as Jena struck back with a 45-yard touchdown pass from Adam Jones to Rafeal Dangerfield with 2:08 remaining to give the Giants a 48-44 advantage.
"I said, 'Geaw, we've come back this far, and we give up a touchdown on one play,'" Faircloth said. "Then we got the ball back, and here we go. Tony Hawkins put on a clinic running and throwing the ball."
Hawkins scored on a 10-yard run with 1:05 left remaining in the game, and Vidalia won 50-46.
"That's the wildest game I've ever been involved in," Hawkins told The Concordia Sentinel after the game.
Faircloth was laughing about the score and said "what a basketball game."
Next week: Game No. 4.
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