Who do you think should manage Ferriday water?|
Story Archives: Faircloth: Sometimes better to be lucky
|Faircloth: Sometimes better to be lucky|
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 second of a five-part series.
Vidalia High's football team started off the 1985 football season ranked at the top of the Class 2A poll.
But the Vikings came out of the gate struggling, losing their first three games.
Vidalia quickly turned things around after winning seven of their next eight games which led to the unforgettable match-up against Opelousas Catholic.
"We moved the ball up and down the field and we just couldn't score," Faircloth said.
Richard Criswell, who had two interceptions and a fumble recovery in the contest, said Opelousas Catholic was the hardest-hitting team Vidalia had faced all year.
Raymond Cage took the opening kickoff 95 yards to the end zone and gave Vidalia an early 6-0 lead.
The Vikings lead man on offense, running back Eddie Ray Jackson, pulled a hamstring in the second quarter and was forced out of the rest of the game.
"I remember having around 97 yards rushing before getting injured in the early second quarter," Jackson said. "I thought it was going to be the last high school game I was going to play, and it was just a blessing that we had an opportunity to win the game."
Opelousas Catholic scored off of a fumble in the end zone with 10:44 left in the second quarter and made the extra point to lead the Vikings 7-6.
Faircloth said that the Vikings would get down to the red zone but never could punch it in.
"It was a hair, teeth and eyeballs game," Faircloth said. "It came down to the final minutes and we're trailing 7-6, and I said 'I can't believe we're going to lose this ball game.'"
The Vikings were running out of time and made it to Opelousas Catholic's 26-yard line before turning the ball over with 1:59 left in the game.
"Last two minutes of the game, we went for it on fourth down around the 30-yard line and they took over the ball," Faircloth said. "I had already told my kids 'alright, get ready to shake their hands, this game's over.' But we were the luckiest suckers."
Faircloth said Opelousas Catholic mismanaged the clock by calling time out and getting delay of game penalties that stopped the clock which led to their punter having to punt the ball from his own 1-yard line with 15 seconds left to play.
"Coach (Johnny Lee) Hoffpauir was in the crow's nest on the phones, and I said, 'Coach, we're sending the house,'" Faircloth said. "Most of our fans had already left. They must have gone to Pizza Hut. We sent all our guys to block that punt, and I never will forget listening to Coach Hoffpauir on that phone.
When the ball was snapped, he said 'Coach, we ain't gonna get it' and about that time I hear the ball go thump!"
The ball shot straight up in the air after the punter hit his own personal protector in the behind with the ball.
"We didn't block it, they blocked it," Faircloth said. "The guy must have taken a couple steps back. Remember, I always used to say never take a step back because you're going to get hemorrhoids? That ball went in the air towards the sideline, and I remember one of their kids was fixing to catch the ball and had he caught it the clock would have ran out. But one of our kids hit him, and the ball bounced off of his chest and went out of bounds."
"As hard as we played that night and deserved to win the game that night it really came down to the coach of Opelousas Catholic's mismanagement of the clock," said Criswell, who is now Operations Manager at Cenla Recycling in Alexandria. "They had four downs to run off something like 48 seconds. Again, we didn't have a time out left and their coach called one of two time outs that stopped the clock and wasted their first three downs that made them have to punt on fourth down.
"We never gave up and when we knew we had a chance to get the ball back we all got very excited and it actually lifted our sprits quite a bit," Criswell said. "I remember the fourth down call for an all-out rush on the punt. Tommy Savant was screaming at us to get to the punter.
At the snap of the ball I remember Mike Pace and I getting a good rush off the corner, but it seemed the guys in the middle had collapsed the middle of their punt team and I remember the ball looking like it had been blocked It went straight up in the air and seemed to be hanging there for minutes."
The ball was on Opelousas' 6-yard line with seven seconds left on the clock.
Joe Ray Hooker, who already missed a 23-yard field goal with five seconds left in the first half and missed an extra point, was called upon to deliver the game-winning kick.
"Coach 'Hoff' was saying 'Coach, you know we have a little time left. "We can take a shot in the end zone here.' And I said 'No, we're either going to win this game or we're going to lose it on this kick,'" Faircloth said. "Joe Ray Hooker got up there and he kicked that ball. That ball went inside that goal post about a foot and about a foot over. That's how weak the kick was, but it went in and our kids went crazy."
"Odds are against us that we won't get it done, and man he went out and executed it and got it done," Jackson said. "Seeing it go through the uprights was one of the happiest days of my life."
The players celebrated so much that they forgot there was still a couple of seconds left on the clock, and the Vikings got a celebration penalty enforced on the kickoff. Opelousas Catholic ran it back to the Viking 42, and the game was over.
"It was like we won the Super Bowl," said current Viking coach Gary Paul Parnham, a lineman on that team. "We were running up and down all over the field. It was an exciting deal."
"That blocked punt and first down field goal is one of a few plays I remember from high school," Criswell said. "It was complete bedlam after Joe Ray kicked that ball through the uprights."
Opelousas Catholic's head coach Mickey Mills was heartbroken after the 9-7 loss.
"It's the toughest loss I've ever had in my life," Mills told the Concordia Sentinel after the game.
The Vikings would go on to face Homer in the quarterfinals and lost 20-6.
Homer would go on to lose in the state championship game to Springhill by a 19-14 score.
"The fans that had already left could not believe we won that game," Faircloth said. "We were some lucky suckers that night, but I'd rather be lucky than good."
Next week: Game No. 3.
|Frank Morris Murder Series|