Clark’s clutch kick caps wild, whacky WC win

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 10, 2002

[09/07/02]McCOMB Anyone who witnessed Warren Central’s game against No. 18 McComb (1-1) Friday night isn’t likely to forget it anytime soon.

Will Clark’s 20-yard field goal as time expired capped a 95-yard drive by the Vikings in the final minute and gave them a sometimes sloppy, sometimes ugly, but always wild 19-16 win.

“That was just a good game, I knew it was going to be a 48-minute deal,” WC coach Robert Morgan said.

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WC (2-0) appeared to either have the game won or be in a position to win three times on the final drive before Clark’s field goal. Two long passes were called back because receivers had stepped out of bounds.

The teams combined for 13 fumbles through the first three quarters including nine by McComb then combined for 24 points in the fourth. The two combined for 16 in the game.

McComb took a 10-9 lead early in the fourth quarter when Travis Collins fell on a fumble by quarterback Patrick Barnes in the end zone. Barnes then ran for a two-point conversion to give the Tigers their first lead of the game.

WC fumbled the ball away in their own territory on the next possession, but McComb’s drive was stopped on downs at the Viking 18. On the next play, WC quarterback Jeremy Ferguson hit Amos Chase on a slant over the middle, and Chase eluded the defense to turn it into an 82-yard touchdown and a 16-10 Viking lead.

“We came out the second half running the ball … finally we started passing and things just opened up,” said Ferguson, who was 10-for-16 passing for 213 yards and one touchdown. He threw for 156 yards in the fourth quarter.

After the touchdown, the real wildness started.

McComb got the ball back at its own 38 with 5:35 to play, and drove 62 yards in a little over four minutes for the tying score with 1:16 to play. As the Tigers lined up for the two-point conversion, however, they were called for an illegal equipment penalty and pushed back to the 7-yard line.

McComb coach Ted Milton then opted to try for an extra point, but the snap was bad and the Vikings swamped it.

“We’ve been struggling in our kicking game. We went for two (earlier) and made it, and then we got called for a penalty,” Milton said of the decision to try for two.

On the ensuing kickoff, a Viking returnman slipped as he was catching the ball at his own 3, pinning WC deep with 1:03 to go. Rather than play for overtime, however, Morgan called for a deep sideline pass to Larry King.

King got behind his defender, juggled the ball as he caught, and raced upfield. He weaved through the defense all the way to the McComb 3-yard line, but was ruled out of bounds at the WC 46.

On the next play, Ferguson found Chris Hemphill on a swing pass. Hemphill made several moves on the sideline and appeared to have scored, but he too was ruled out of bounds, leaving the Vikings with the ball at the Tiger 32 with about 30 seconds to play.

“We were just in zone coverage and telling them to make sure to keep they catch the ball in front of them,” Milton said. “We’ve got to shore up our secondary.”

Rod Montgomery gained 8 yards on a reverse on the next play, and Ferguson threw an incomplete pass before Richmond Fields rambled off the left side to the McComb 3 as the Vikings called timeout with 3.6 seconds remaining.

“That’s one thing you have to learn is to keep your composure when stuff like that happens,” Morgan said. “There’s times when stuff is big, and you’ve got to keep your composure and do what you’ve got to do.”

After a brief dispute over the timeout McComb’s coaches didn’t think the Vikings had any left Clark stepped up and knocked the ball through the uprights as the clock finally went to all zeros.

“It was tough. I could hardly breathe,” Clark said. “Let me say, this team did it all. All I did was swing my leg.”