Eagles try to rebound after punishing defeat

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 14, 2009

Over the past few years, Porters Chapel has had losses more lopsided, and even a few more emotionally devastating, than the one they took to University Christian on Friday night.

There haven’t been many, though, that seemed to make as big a statement.

University Christian ran roughshod over the Eagles, scoring touchdowns on four of its first six plays, rolling up 425 yards of offense and cruising to a 49-14 victory. The Flames’ win put them in the driver’s seat in the District 5-A playoff race and put PCA in a tough spot. PCA (2-3, 1-1 District 5-A) must win its last two district games, at Russell Christian on Oct. 2 and at home against Newton Academy on Oct. 30, to extend its streak of consecutive playoff appearances to six.

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“Right now we’re playing Russell and Newton. We’re playing the points game and seeing how things fall for us,” said PCA tailback Kruz Federick, who ran for 100 yards and two touchdowns on Friday. “We’re just going to stick with our gameplan. Go back to practice on Monday and concentrate on the game coming up.”

And that’s one of PCA’s problems. The game coming up this Friday is against Trinity, one of the top teams in the MAIS’ Class A ranks. With several starters injured, including leading rusher and tackler Jay Wiley and the team’s top lineman in Caze Brewer, PCA will have its hands full keeping up with the Saints.

“They are very well-coached. They are one of, if not the best team, in the state. All we can do is work hard and give it our all,” PCA tight end Reed Gordon said.

Rocked by injuries to nearly every player on the roster, PCA has struggled this season. The defense, always a strength of the team, is giving up a whopping 39 points per game. The offense hasn’t fared much better. It has scored just 22 points the last two weeks and turned the ball over five times against University Christian. Another fumbled snap on fourth down was recovered by PCA, but resulted in a turnover on downs.

The injuries have played a big part in the offense’s downfall. Quarterback Colby Rushing, who is nursing an ankle injury, floated two passes that resulted in interceptions against University Christian. And without Wiley, the offense seemed to lack a big-time playmaker. Tailbacks Federick and Montana McDaniel combined for 159 rushing yards on Friday, but only 41 of those came in the second half.

“It’s just mental mistakes. We’re still a pretty young team. We have a lot of new starters,” Federick said. “It’s really just playing together, growing together and being football smart.”

The good news for PCA is there’s still time to put together a strong season. They don’t even have to go far to find a precedent. In 2007, the Eagles started the year 1-2 before winning eight of their last 10 games and advancing to the second round of the playoffs.

The key is to get healthy. The team will be helped by an open date next week, courtesy of a forfeit by Veritas which switched from 11-man to 8-man football before the season. After that is the do-or-die district game at Russell Christian.

“The season ain’t over, but that put a big damper on it. It’s always tough to lose a big district game,” Gordon said. “Only thing we can do is work hard in practice, give it our all on Friday night and pray for no more injuries.”


Contact Ernest Bowker at ebowker@vicksburgpost.com