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|Playing for the Dome|
This is the 28th in a 30-part series on the top football games played in Concordia Parish.
The 1984 playoffs were another month off. But Vidalia head football coach Dee Faircloth felt his team's postseason was decided on the night of October 12 at Dee Faircloth Viking Stadium as Vidalia lost a 21-16 heartbreaker to Ferriday.
"That game cost us a trip to the Superdome," Faircloth said. "They had a really good team and it was a tremendous game. They had a pretty good road to get to the championship game while we faced some NFL-type teams in our bracket."
You can bet Concordia Parish football fans had October 12, 1984 marked down on their calendars way before the season started.
"I can remember it being so intense that whole week," said Vidalia lineman Joel Boles. "We ate, slept and practiced beating the Trojans. I really thought it was our year. We were a good, cohesive team."
Vidalia and Ferriday tied Caldwell for the Class 4-AA title in 1983. The Vikings and Trojans returned several key starters and big things were expected from both teams. Most figured the October clash in Viking Stadium would tell the tale of who would finish on top again.
Ferriday returned 6-foot-1, 190-pound quarterback James Jones, who passed for 1,254 yards the previous season and was very adept at running the ball.
Scatback Keith Whitley rushed for 963 yards in 1983.
Vidalia was led by strong-armed quarterback Raleston Brown and speedster Eddie Ray Jackson in the backfield.
The Junkyard Dog defense was led by Anthony Moore, Francis Duncan and Eddie Blakenship, while Vidalia's defense was led by Joel Boles, Alan Ensminger and Richard Criswell.
Vidalia lost to Welsh in a first-round playoff game the previous year, while Ferriday was eliminated by Notre Dame of Crowley in the first round. Both were hungry for more a year later.
Vidalia beat Ferriday 13-6 in the annual jamboree consisting of two quarters a week before the season-opener.
"That really motivated us," said former Ferriday cornerback Don Sheppard. "We practiced more after that and ran our gasses a little harder."
The Vikings entered the game with a 6-0 record, while Ferriday High was 5-0. The Vikings were coming off a 27-0 district win over Winnsboro, while Ferriday blasted Sicily Island 41-0.
Vidalia was averaging 24 points a game, while allowing 6.4. The Vikings were ranked No. 11 in double-A, while Ferriday was 12th.
Approximately 3,000 people crammed into Viking Stadium, and they were not disappointed.
Three penalties back Ferriday up to its own 4-yard line early in the contest. Jones was hit scrambling and fumbled, with the Vikings recovering.
Brown carried the ball in for the first score of the game on the first play from scrimmage after the fumble and kicked the extra point to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead.
Whitley and Dyron Jones chewed up yardage on Ferriday's next possession, with Whitley scoring on a 22-yard run and Jones ran in the conversion for an 8-7 Trojan lead.
Ferriday went ahead 14-7 with seconds remaining in the opening period as Jones passed ling to Ronnie Taylor. The ball deflected off of Taylor's hands into the hands of teammate Earl Banks further down the field, who went the final 18 yards for the score.
The game turned defensive, with neither team scoring in the second or third period.
The Vikings began the final quarter on the Ferriday 29 after a fumble recovery at the Trojan 44 late in the third period.
Vidalia moved to the Ferriday 13, but Brown was sacked for 25 yards back to the Ferriday 38.
Ferriday blocked the punt, but the Viking defense then stepped up, stopping the Trojans at their own 25 after penalties and sacks.
Vidalia moved to the Ferriday 40, thanks in part to a 15-yard Trojan penalty. Jackson then broke loose on a 40-yard run with 7:45 remaining in the contest. The run for two failed, leaving Vidalia trailing 14-13.
Jones was sacked back to his 6-yard line on Ferriday's next possession.
Vidalia took over on the Trojan 42-yard line.
Four runs by Joseph Ray Hooker moved the ball to the Ferriday eight. Jackson was held to no gain, Brown was tackled for a two-yard loss and Brown's pass to Tony Hawkins was incomplete.
Brown then split the uprights on a 27-yard field goal, giving the VIkings a 16-14 lead with 2:51 remaining.
"We knew Vidalia had a tough team and we would have to come out focused," Johnson said. "After that field goal I was thinking, 'What are we going to do now.' But I knew we could come back."
"We were thinking we had let it slip away," Moore said. "But was had good leaders and a good senior group that knew how to get everything out of everybody. We left it on the field every Friday."
Ferriday began its dramatic drive on its own 17.
Whitley ran for 38 yards on first down, was stopped for no gain on the second play, and then broke loose on a 43-yard run to the Viking 2-yard line.
"I remember blocking Eddie Ray, and he was so fast he hit the ground, got back up and got Keith. I was relieved after we scored," Moore said.
Johnson ran it in from there and Ronnie Reese added the kick for a 21-16 Trojan lead with 1:45 remaining.
Bobby Taylor intercepted a pass on Vidalia's next possession and the Trojans took control at their 32.
Four plays later, Reese punted to the Vidalia 48 and time ran out.
"When we stopped them on their 17 on the kickoff return I was thinking we were in good shape," Faircloth said. "Up to that point they had about 68 total yards of offense. I knew they would have to go further than they had gone all night."
But, on the kickoff, Hooker fell down with a cramp while setting up the ball on the tee and had to helped off the field before Brown filled in kicking off.
After the kickoff and getting the cramps worked out, Hooker could not find his helmet.
"The manager had put it down on the other side," Faircloth said. "We didn't have a defensive end. All night long Ferriday was running the play where they send a man in motion and he cracks back on the end.
"Well, Hooker had shut that play down three times for no gain or loss yards. But while he was looking for his helmet, we had to grab somebody who wasn't familiar with that play and put them in at defensive end."
Ferriday called the same play.
Whitley ran 40 yards on the first play and 43 yards two plays later and then Johnson ran it in
"I was so mad because I felt like it got out of our control and I could not get it back," Boles said. "Everyone was trying to get everyone else fired up and focused and we all were. It was a great game. but very frustrating for us.They were stacked with talent that year.
Vidalia lost to Notre Dame of Crowley in the regionals, while Ferriday went on to play John Curtis in the Louisiana Superdome for the state championship, falling 23-7 to the Patriots.
|Frank Morris Murder Series|