When Friday’s crosstown clash titled “The Battle of 61” began at Parks Field and Mickey Sellers Stadium, the Cleveland High Wildcats took a 22-point lead and held on to win 22-16, bringing home the Sears Trophy sponsored by Sears of Cleveland. Cleveland improved to 3-3, while East Side dropped to 3-3. Cleveland now holds a 14-10 lead in the series between the two teams.
The Wildcats won the battle of field position as they began a possession in East Side territory seven times. Cleveland was able to win that field possession battle by taking advantage of East Side’s mistakes. Each team turned the ball over three times, but East Side committed 12 penalties in the contest, while Cleveland committed just five.
“We had some older guys, Eddie McCadney and Raymond Gee and some of those guys, come by and talk to the kids and they talked about how important it was and it really got them pumped up for the game,” Cleveland High head coach Kelly Causey said. “I was very proud how the kids came out and played hard. We worked all week. We made a dedication to get it back and that’s what they did.”
The Wildcats won the coin toss to start the game, but chose to defer as the Trojans received the opening kickoff. The Trojans moved the ball well and had Cleveland’s back against the wall. The Trojans appeared to have scored on the opening drive as Barron Burns marched into the end zone for what appeared to be a touchdown, but the yellow laundry hit the field as the Trojans were flagged for holding and unsportsmanlike conduct. The penalties pushed the Trojans back to the CHS 35-yard line.
East Side’s possession ended in disaster as Cleveland’s Larry Douglas recovered a fumble to get the ball at CHS’s own 46-yard line. The Wildcats were able to move the ball as well but came up short on their first possession as East Side’s Lakyle Thomas recovered a fumble to give the Trojans possession at their own 25-yard line. Neither team could score before the end of the first quarter.
In the first half for Cleveland, Vaughnte Dorsey and Earnest Butler were doing a good job of running the ball for the Wildcats. With 6:37 left in the second quarter, Cleveland finally put some points on the board as Dorsey found a wide open Andonte Maxie in the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown pass. The PAT kick was no good, but Cleveland led 6-0.
The Wildcats’ defense came up big again as Dorsey intercepted a pass and returned it down to East Side’s 11-yard line. Butler marched on two runs to put the Wildcats at the one-yard line. With 4:30 left in the first half, the Wildcats scored six more points as Dorsey marched in from one yard out for the touchdown. The PAT attempt was no good, but Cleveland led 12-0.
The Trojans moved the ball well with Quadre Butler rushing for some key yards on the ground. Dy’monquae Pates completed some passes, but the Trojans’ offense struggled to get points.
Cleveland’s defense came through one more time before the end of the first half as Butler intercepted a pass and returned it all the way down to the East Side 18-yard line. Cleveland attempted a 31-yard field goal with 1:45 left in the first half, but missed it. The Wildcats were still able to go into the locker room leading 12-0.
The Wildcats received the ball first in the second half. Cleveland moved the ball well on tits first possession of the third quarter, but the Trojans’ defense was able to come up with a big play as Jamarcus Burns recovered a fumble to give East Side the ball at its own 10-yard line. The Trojans’ momentum would be short lived, as they were forced to punt the ball away.
Cleveland continued to control the ball on offense as Butler galloped down the field for more big yards. Dorsey also completed a 28-yard pass to Kyran Parker to keep the offense moving. With 2:49 left in the third quarter, Dorsey galloped on a two-yard touchdown run. The PAT from Trace Edwards was good, and Cleveland increased its lead to 19-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Wildcats went for an onside kick and recovered it to get the ball at the East Side 48-yard line. The Trojans’ defense stood tall, but Cleveland was able to score points as Edwards split the uprights for a 20-yard field goal to make the score 22-0 with 7:42 left in the game.
The Trojans finally found their spark in the final few minutes as Jalen Thomas took the kickoff and returned it down to the Wildcats’ 27-yard line. With 3:56 left in the game, Pates connected with Barron Burns on a four-yard touchdown pass. Pates scored the two-point conversion to cut the Wildcats’ lead down to 22-8.
The Trojans caught a big break on the Wildcats’ next possession as Butler marched on a long run, but he ended up fumbling the ball. East Side’s Paddarrius Bronner picked up the ball and returned it all the way down to the Trojans’ 47-yard line. East Side wasn’t able to score on the possession, but the team did put up some more points with 19 seconds left in the game as Pates connected with Barron Burns on an eight-yard touchdown pass. Pates connected with Burns on the two-point conversion to cut the Wildcats’ lead down to 22-16.
East Side tried the onside kick, but Cleveland recovered it and ended up running out the clock to bring home its first win over East Side since 2009.
“The guys hung in there and fought well,” East Side head coach Kendrick Woodard said. “They played to the end, and you couldn’t have asked for any better. Once again, we turned that ball over in critical times of the game and made some big mistakes. We just can’t keep shooting ourselves in the foot.”
For Cleveland, Butler rushed for 67 yards on 21 carries, while Dorsey completed 2-of-6 passes for 46 yards with a touchdown and rushed for 47 yards with two touchdowns on 12 carries.
For East Side, Pates completed 12-of-20 passes for 107 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions and rushed for 19 yards on six carries to the lead offense. Quadre Butler rushed for 52 yards on eight carries, Barron Burns caught six passes for 35 yards with two touchdowns and Perry Henry caught two passes for 38 yards to round the Trojans’ attack.
On defense for East Side, Taquille Eatmon and Barron Burns recorded 13 tackles each, while Jamarcus Burns recorded 12 tackles to lead the way.
Cleveland will return to gridiron on Friday when the team travels to Indianola to play Gentry in a Region 3-4A game, while East Side will travel to Itta Bena to play Leflore County in a Region 3-3A contest.