Vikings win wild one in Crescent City
by Joey Martin - posted Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 @ 3:05 pm
There was no doubt in Michael Randall's mind who should get the ball with Vidalia's season on the line.
The unbeaten Vikings had made it to the reginals of the Class 2A playoffs and were trailing Redeemer-Seton 22-21 with 7:39 remaining in the game in New Orleans and lining up for the extra point conversion after a penalty moved the ball to the 1 1/2-yard line.
Vidalia head coach Dee Faircloth called on Randall, who was hit several times before bulling into the end zone to give the Vikings the win.
The win in 2003 gave Vidalia a spot in the quarterfinals for the first time in 18 years.
"Playing in that game was awesome," Randall said. "We had a great team and we were prepared."
Randall scored a short touchdown with 7:39 remaining in the game to pull the Vikings within one.
"Scoring that touchdown was awesome," Randall said. "We tried to get it into the end zone with Chris (Williams) two plays earlier. We were in a time out in a huddle and I told Coach, 'Give me the ball.' He said, 'All right, you got it.' When I got the ball there was really no where to go but to the end zone. When I got there I was met at the line by one of their players. I ran at him and knew I wasn't going to be stopped by one guy. When I crossed the line and the ref said it was a touchdown, I was excited, but I knew we were still down by one. I told Coach I wanted the ball again. We ran a dive play and their defense pushed our line back, but I was determined to go back in the end zone."
"We had just scored to make it 22-21, and I had a kicker," Faircloth said. "You know how I was about kickers. If he kicked it we would tie up the game, and then we would have to go to overtime."
Faircloth went with his instinct and decided to go for the two-point conversion. Quarterback Tony Hawkins dropped back to pass and threw an incomplete pass, but there was a piece of dirty laundry on the ground.
"I didn't feel like the way they were playing defense at the time that we'd ever get back down there," Faircloth said. "I made the decision that we were going for two points, and we threw a fullback flat to Chris Williams. They knocked him down as he went out on the route, and they called passing interference."
The ball was moved to a yard and a half out from the end zone, and Faircloth had to decide what play to run to capture the lead.
"I'll always remember when I was talking to my quarterback, and I looked out there and Michael Randall was out there going, 'Coach, coach give it to me.'" Faircloth said. "I said, 'Alright, you want it? I'll give it to ya.' And look, we didn't block anybody on that play. We ran a wham and had four guys hit him in the backfield, and that little sucker carried all four of them in the end zone with him. That was a heckuva display of heart."
The Vikings defense would hold onto that 23-22 lead and the Vikings would advance in the playoffs and improve their record to 12-0.
"I remember the coach from Redeemer-Seton (Brantley Williams) said, 'That was a really gutsy call,'" Faircloth said. "I'm going, "Heck, I didn't think I'd get back down there.' You just got to go with your instinct on stuff like that."
Redeemer-Seton was riding high after upsetting Oakdale 42-18, and Vidalia had easily disposed of Livonia 50-7 in the first round.
Vidalia entered the Big Easy on November 21, 2003 and played the game at Jefferson Playground, where Redeemer-Seton rarely saw the opposition finish with more points on the scoreboard.
Vidalia struck first with a first quarter 29-yard touchdown pass from Hawkins to Randall followed by a Jeffrey Anderson extra point to put the Vikings up 7-0.
Redeemer-Seton took the lead in the second quarter with a 14-yard touchdown pass from UCLA commitment George Lewis to Kenneth Kensey, followed by a two-point conversion.
The Rams increased their lead with a Jamal Johnson 25-yard touchdown run followed by a failed two-point conversion to go up 14-7.
"They were very talented," Faircloth said. "In fact, they played West St. John the closest game they'd had. They were loaded and our kids had our hands full. It was a slobber-knocker. It was a tough ball game."
The Vikings pulled to within five points after Steven Cooper, Chase Clayton and the Viking defense tackled Lewis in the end zone for a safety. The Vikings marched their way back down the field following the safety and capped off the drive with a Hawkins 2-yard touchdown run with 12.7 seconds left in the first half. The try for two failed and the Vikings went into halftime with a 15-14 lead.
The second half saw a lot of defense, as Ken Johnson and Brett Hinson had great defensive games. Johnson hauled in two interceptions and Hinson intercepted a pass in his second straight playoff game.
Redeemer-Seton would take a 22-15 lead when Lewis threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Kensey and a pass to Jahan Jones for the two-point conversion.
That set up Randall's heroics.
Faircloth said time flew by on the bus ride home back to Vidalia.
"It was the most joyful ride we ever had coming back from a ball game," Faircloth said. "We had to come home from New Orleans. It seemed like we got on the bus and two minutes later we were home. It was a short bus ride."
The Vikings would improve to 13-0 the following week with a 46-12 victory over Mamou and advanced to play West St. John in the quarterfinals. Vidalia would see their season end to a West St. John team that was led by future LSU and NFL stars Tyson Jackson and Quinn Johnson and Louisiana Tech all-star running back Patrick Johnson.
"I miss those days," Randall said. "I wish I could turn back time and do it all again with the same guys an with the same coach. I feel like we were one of the best teams to ever play at Vidalia."
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