Porters Chapel rolls along|[11/12/05]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 12, 2005

East Holmes was supposed to slow down, and maybe even stop Porters Chapel.

Instead, the Raiders (9-3) just became the latest in a long line of victims of the PCA machine, caught up in the gears of a first-half meltdown and mowed down by a ruthlessly efficient running game that sent the Eagles on to yet another win.

Chris Mixon ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries, and PCA (11-0) crushed East Holmes 35-0 in a second-round Academy-A playoff game on Friday. Hayden Hales also threw a touchdown pass, scored on a run, and intercepted two passes for the Eagles.

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The victory sent PCA to the state semifinals for the first time, and set up a rematch with Lee, Ark., next Friday in Vicksburg. Lee, which beat Delta Academy to advance to its second straight North State championship game, beat PCA in the first round of the playoffs last season.

&#8220We are really going to have our hands full next week,” PCA coach Randy Wright said. &#8220I know I’ve been saying that a lot this year, but I really mean it this week. Lee has the highest scoring team in the state and can put a lot of points on the board. It’s going to be a huge challenge, but all year long that’s pretty much who we were expecting it to come down to.”

Like they have with so many of their opponents this season, PCA put East Holmes away early.

After the Eagles punted on the game’s opening possession, they held East Holmes to a three-and-out and forced a punt. Michael Goss fumbled a low snap, though, and was brought down at his own 1-yard line. Mixon scored on the next play to make it 7-0.

Goss got the punt away on the ensuing possession, but Mixon made him pay again. The PCA senior returned the kick 37 yards to the East Holmes 8, and Hales scored on a quarterback sneak to make it 14-0.

Hales then threw a 66-yard touchdown strike to Cole Smith on the Eagles’ next possession to put his team ahead 21-0 with 34 seconds left in the first quarter, and leave East Holmes in a state of shock.

&#8220You can’t do that. They got us down at the 1- or 2-yard line, and there ain’t no way you’re going to stop a team like that and a running back like they’ve got,” said East Holmes quarterback Craig Pee, who was 5-of-15 passing for 49 yards and three interceptions on the night. &#8220That’s the first time we’ve been in a situation like that all year.”

East Holmes’ nightmare continued in the second quarter. A muffed punt was recovered by PCA’s Chris Mann at the Raider 13-yard line, and Mixon scored on a 5-yard run three plays later to make it 28-0 with 5:26 to go in the half.

East Holmes finally got a chance late in the period when B.J. Edwards stripped the ball from Hales and returned it to the PCA 25. Even that glimmer of hope was quickly dashed, however, when PCA’s defense stiffened inside the 15-yard line and the Raiders came away with nothing.

It was more of the same in the second half, as three of East Holmes’ four possessions ended in interceptions. Mixon added a 10-yard TD run midway through the third quarter for the game’s final score, and the Eagles cruised into the next round.

&#8220We haven’t done anything yet,” said PCA safety Michael Busby, who intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter. &#8220It’s still so far away, it’s like the district championship last year. We haven’t won anything.”