Big 4th quarter key in Wildcats’ victory

Published 11:10 pm Friday, September 8, 2017

In week one, Varnado was outscored 19-0 in the fourth quarter after leading 16-7 through three quarters.

Things were totally different in the Wildcats’ 44-14 victory over Pine on Friday night at home.

“You play these games and you’re trying to get better each week and that’s where we needed to improve,” Varnado coach Scott Shaffett said. “Last week, we were not very good in the fourth quarter and it cost us a ballgame. So this week, we were really wanting to be on top in the fourth quarter, but even if we were down in the fourth quarter, we knew we had to play four quarters. The guys came, busted their tails and played four quarters and got after it and never quit and I’m proud of them.”

Varnado led 22-16 through three quarters, but doubled its score in the fourth period, outscoring Pine 22-0 in the final frame.

Varnado began the fourth quarter in the middle of a drive with a third-and-3 at Pine’s 9. Two incompletions followed, but Pine was called for roughing the passer on fourth down, extending the drive and moving the ball to the 4. On second-and-goal from the 1, Jadarrell Magee scored the touchdown. The two-point conversion failed, but the Wildcats were up 14 with 11:05 left in the game.

Jeroderick Robinson intercepted a Pine pass on the initial play of the following drive and returned it to Pine’s 44. Varnado moved the ball to the 21 and on second-and-9, Jaccourious Bickham ran left and up the sideline into the end zone for the score. He also converted for two to make it 36-14 at the 4:46 mark.

Pine attempted to punt from its 20 on fourth down, but Adrian Bickham blocked it and Christian Matthews picked up the loose ball at about the 2 and took it in for the game’s final touchdown. Bickham’s two-point run made it 44-14 with 4:03 left and that was the final score.

“They out-executed us. They had a better-coached game plan. Their players were more prepared and their players out-executed our guys, that’s what happened,” Pine coach Bradley Seal said.

The game was close until the fourth quarter. Varnado got on the board first when Desmond Harry ran in from 11 yards out and then converted for two points to make it an 8-0 game with 8:03 left in the first quarter.

Pine tied the game with 48 seconds left when Joey Seal hit Markell Cotton over the top and Cotton took it the distance on a 75-yard catch-and-run with Pine facing third-and-12. Delvric Dillon was good for two and the game was tied 8-8 through

One quarter.

Seal finished with 221 passing yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Cotton led Pine’s receivers in yards with 75.

Pine went in front at the 5:01 mark of the second quarter when Seal found Jordan Anderson for a 29-yard score. The extra point was wide right and it was 14-8.

Pine had a chance to add to its lead late in the first half. The Raiders had the ball at Varnado’s 37, but Armontee Kemp intercepted a 50/50 ball with 1:26 to go. Varnado nearly scored on a 74-yard play on a quick screen from James Williams to Kemp, but Varnado was flagged at Pine’s 10 for an illegal block, pushing the ball back to Pine’s 25. Two plays later, Williams found Bickham on a 13-yarder and Bickham converted the two for a 16-14 halftime lead.

Williams threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Kemp was the Wildcats’ leading receiver with five catches for 107 yards and the touchdown.

The third quarter’s only scoring came on a fourth-and-5 pass from Pine’s 15 when Williams threw a pass to Kemp, who made the leaping catch. The two-point conversion failed and the Wildcats were up 22-14 through three quarters before going on for the 44-14 win.

Shaffett credited Pine, following the game.

“I’ve got to give it to coach Seal. I’m going to tell you what, they’ve got a phenomenal program, a phenomenal team. I can promise you this much, that team, they might’ve went down tonight, but I promise you, they’re not going to go down many (times). That’s as good of a team as you’re going to see all year long,” Shaffett said.

Both teams are 1-1 this season and both will be back in action Friday night on the road. Varnado heads to St. Helena College and Career Academy, while Pine is traveling to Pearl River.

Pine’s Joey Seal throws a pass with JoNathan Green on the blitz during Friday’s contest at VHS.