Eagles’ win over Trojans keyed by special teams

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 15, 2003

Porters Chapel Academy running back J.D. Lee eludes Tallulah Academy defensive back Cole Grissom during PCA’s 7-6 victory Friday night. It was PCA’s first win over their conference rival in four meetings. (Jon GiffinThe Vicksburg Post)

[9/15/03]There’s an old football axiom that special teams play is one of the most important, yet also one of the most overlooked, parts of the game.

Porters Chapel Academy proved the rule again Friday night in its win over Tallulah Academy, coming up with a series of clutch plays in the kicking game that keyed a 7-6 win.

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PCA returned a kickoff for a touchdown for its only points, then blocked an extra point in the fourth quarter to deny Tallulah a tie. Later, a roughing the kicker penalty on a punt helped the Eagles run a couple of extra minutes off the clock.

“This was a good, hard-fought game from start to finish. But really, when we get the film back we’re going to pinpoint about three plays that swung this whole thing,” Tallulah coach Jacky Thames said. “Just two or three plays made a lot of difference tonight.”

The first big play came on the first play of the game. PCA’s Kenny Simms fielded the opening kickoff at his own 14-yard line, then watched in amazement as his blockers cut the field in half. Every Tallulah player was blocked toward the right side of the field, and Simms sprinted through the hole on the left on his way to an 86-yard touchdown return and a 7-0 lead.

“I had everybody on the other team blocked. My blockers did a wonderful job, and then just boom, the hole hit and I didn’t even want to look back,” Simms said. “They had all overpursued, and I just broke it to the sideline. That was it. I wasn’t stopping.”

Defense dominated the rest of the night. Despite controlling the ball for 28 minutes, Porters Chapel never advanced inside the Tallulah 30 on offense. The Trojans, meanwhile, struggled to get their running game going on a wet and muddy field and managed only 125 yards on the ground.

When Tallulah finally did piece together a long scoring drive, the special teams played a huge role once again.

The Trojans got on the scoreboard with 9:58 to play in the game when Marsh scored from 2 yards out to cap a 13-play, 6 1/2 minute drive.

Tallulah’s offense went back on the field to try for a 2-point conversion, but a delay of game penalty pushed them back five yards and forced the kicking team onto the field.

On the extra point attempt, kicker Clay Morgan barely got the ball off the ground and it was blocked by PCA’s Humphrey Barlow to keep the score at 7-6.

Barlow really didn’t have a choice but to block the kick. It hit him in the face when he jumped, and he batted it down after it bounced in the air.

“I don’t think there’s any blame anywhere, except we’re in the middle of mud, slop, and it just didn’t go our way on that one,” Thames said.