PCA falls short in semis again

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 22, 2008

MINDEN, La.  — On a frosty night when temperatures hovered in the low 30s, it seemed fitting that the end of Porters Chapel’s season came on like the onset of hypothermia.

There was the slow realization that they might be in trouble. The hope, even as things aren’t looking good, is that it’ll get better. And finally the rosy feel-good glow at the end, followed quickly by the cold, hard realization that this is the end.

David Thompson ran for 154 yards and scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, Jack Jiles had 115 yards and one touchdown, and Glenbrook ended Porters Chapel’s season for the second straight year, 30-7, in the MPSA Class A South State championship game.

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PCA finished its season with a 13-1 record and a third trip to the state semifinals in five years. Once again, though, the final step proved elusive for the Eagles.

“We’ve had an outstanding season. It’s been a lot of fun. We had a great run. It’s a shame it had to end when it did,” PCA coach Randy Wright said. “It’s tough. We’ve been right here three times in five years. It’s a great accomplishment for this program, but we have to figure out a way to take that next step.”

Glenbrook also beat PCA in the second round of the 2007 playoffs, and went on to win the Class A championship. The Apaches (11-2), who haven’t lost to a Class A team since the 2006 playoffs, will go for a second straight title against DeSoto School next Saturday at 11 a.m. at East Rankin Academy in Pelahatchie.

“It was harder and tougher this time,” Jiles said. “We had to do a lot of work. We lost some guys last year, but we knew we had our nine seniors back and we could do this.”

PCA had its chances Friday night, but never could get on track offensively. Every break it got was countered by a momentum-swinging play by Glenbrook, and PCA didn’t get inside the 25-yard line until its final offensive play — a 34-yard touchdown pass from Clayton Holmes to Jeremy Roach. And even that play didn’t go off without a hitch. Roach made a cutback during his run to the end zone and suffered a knee injury in the process.

PCA had just 161 yards of total offense, and turned the ball over four times — including three turnovers on consecutive drives in the fourth quarter.

“I was blown away by the way our defense played,” Glenbrook coach Jerry Almond said. “My biggest concern was to keep (Holmes) contained and we did a great job with that.”

Despite their struggles, the Eagles were in the game until late in the third quarter. A 4-yard touchdown run by Glenbrook’s Preston Wise was the only score of the first half, and PCA made a huge goal line stand after the Apaches had a first-and-goal from the 3-yard line midway through the third quarter.

PCA couldn’t pick up a first down, though, and punted the ball with just under three minutes left in the third. It took Glenbrook just four plays to score. A 39-yard pass from Hunter Leppert to Jake Byrd took the ball right back to the PCA 1, where Jiles punched it in. A two-point conversion run by lineman Luke Ritchie put Glenbrook ahead 15-0.

“That goal line stand was huge, and then we just couldn’t get off that goal line and they scored a few plays later,” Wright said.

And from there, the wheels came off for PCA.

A pass for a first down from Holmes to Roach was fumbled near midfield on the first play of the fourth quarter, and Thompson scored on 2-yard run with 9:08 left. A two-point conversion pass from Leppert to Chandler Singleton was good to give the Apaches a 23-0 lead.

Singleton intercepted Holmes for the second time in the game on PCA’s next drive, and Thompson put the final nail in the coffin with a 43-yard TD run with 5:08 to play to make it 30-0.

“We told them all week we had to make breaks happen. We made that happen with fumbles and interceptions,” Almond said. “When it looked like the momentum was fixing to shift to them, we were able to grab it back.”

PCA showed some fight with its final drive, which resulted in Holmes’ TD pass to Roach. But it was far too late for the Eagles to shake off 47 minutes of uneven play.

“For whatever reason we couldn’t get things going,” Wright said. “Glenbrook had a great gameplan and they executed it and took it to us.”