Slow start leads to Wildcats loss
by Chance Wright
Nov 04, 2012 | 1217 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Cleveland High School Wildcats football season came to a painful end Friday night as the Lewisburg Patriots came to town and snuck away with a 28-23 win in the first round of the 4A-playoffs.

All season the Wildcats were plagued with turnovers, missed opportunities and untimely penalties and on Friday night these things once again proved to be their demise.

Patriots senior running back, Xavier Morris, who came into the game with 1006 yards on 207 carries and 15 touchdowns, made his presence felt early by leading Lewisburg down the field on the opening possession.

During the Patriots' impressive game opening drive, the coaching staff called Morris' number on eight consecutive plays before wide received Chris Taylor took the inside handoff from quarterback D.J. Steakley and outran the Wildcat's defense for the 25-yard score.

Junior place kicker Matt Bratton added the PAT kick and Lewisburg took the early 7-0 lead with 7:37 remaining in the first.

Just over a minute later, as the Wildcats were mounting a drive of their own, senior running back Jason Young took the ball on a the right sweep to the CHS 44-yard line.

Before going to the ground, Young was stripped of the ball by the Patriots' defensive end Jermaine McMahon who took the fumble 44-yards for the second score of the game. Bratton's PAT was good and just like that the Wildcats' found themselves in a 14-0 hole just six minutes into the game.

The Wildcats would get on the board next after an 11-play drive ended with a 31-yard field goal from senior place kicker Nixon Mata with 4:21 to play in the first half making the score 14-3.

On their next offensive drive, the turnover bug would strike the Wildcats once again.

Facing a second and one from their 29-yard line, sophomore quarterback Vaughnte Dorsey was intercepted by Patriots' cornerback Nick Jeffries at the 50-yard line and returned 49-yards to the Wildcat's one-yard line. Steakley would score with the quarterback keeper on the very next play. Bratton's PAT was good and just like that; the Patriots had the 21-3 lead.

The Wildcats' offense would not be denied on their next drive. Aided by a couple of uncharacteristic penalties from the Patriots' defense and some strong carries from senior fullback Trace Bray, the Wildcats' found themselves facing a first and ten from the Lewisburg 35-yard line with only 30-seconds remaining in the first half.

Dorsey took the snap from center and immediately found a streaking Russell across the middle of the field for the touchdown. Mata added the PAT and the Wildcats went into the locker room only trailing 21-10.

After the break, the Wildcats took the ball and proceeded to establish their best offensive drive of the game marching 75-yards down the field.

Facing a fourth and goal from the half-inch line, Young took the inside handoff in for the short score. Mata's PAT was good and the Wildcats' only trailed 21-17 with 3:38 remaining in the third quarter.

After consecutive drives ended with punts Lewisburg struck again.

Staring down the Wildcats' defense and facing a long third and 25 from their own 41-yard line, Patriots' backup quarterback John Ferguson found the left sidelines and 59-yards later, put another six on the scoreboard. Bratton's extra point increased the Patriots' lead to 28-17 with 9:28 to play in the game.

The Wildcats' would strike right back when Dorsey found Russell down the right sidelines for a 68-yard touchdown. The Wildcats' two-point conversion attempt failed and the Patriots led 28-23.

The Wildcats got one final chance to steal the game when their defense held the Patriots' offense to a punt with 7:16 to play.

Mounting another 11-play drive Dorsey and the Wildcats offense were faced with a third and goal from the Patriots' five-yard line with 2:15 to play in the game.

On the Wildcats' next play everything fell apart as Young coughed up the ball while being gang tackled and the Patriots recovered to run out the clock to secure the victory.

The Wildcats finished the season with an 8-4 record.

With the win, Lewisburg, also 8-4, advance to the second round of the playoffs to face Itawamba Agricultural High School, 11-0 on the season, in Fulton on Friday.

Itawamba defeated Kosciusko 42-0 Friday night to advance.