PCA can’t get away from Hartfield

Published 1:11 am Saturday, August 30, 2014

Porters Chapel quarterback Zac Morgan scrambles out of the pocket while a Hartfield defender tries to drag him down Friday night at Eagles Field. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Porters Chapel quarterback Zac Morgan scrambles out of the pocket while a Hartfield defender tries to drag him down Friday night at Eagles Field. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Porters Chapel Academy started the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game in a dogfight with Hartfield Academy.

It didn’t quite finish that way.

Cramps, drops and penalties overshadowed an otherwise gutsy performance, and the mistakes that haunted the Eagles all night were just too much to overcome as they fell to Hartfield 33-19.

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PCA quarterback Zac Morgan threw for 188 yards and two touchdowns on 8-of-20 passing, but was intercepted twice and his receiving corps was plagued by dropped passes. A few of the drops in the early going cost PCA a chance to take the lead — and, later on, keep it.

“If we catch some of those passes in the first quarter, second quarter, we’re two or three touchdowns ahead,” coach Wayne Lynch said. “We’re dropping the ball. I know we had at least 10 dropped passes in the first half. You can’t win like that.”

PCA struck first, with a 49-yard TD pass from Morgan to Eric Jackson in the first quarter. After missing the extra point and giving up a Hartfield touchdown, Porters Chapel swapped possessions with the Hawks until less than five minutes remained in the first half.

With the Hawks driving deep in the red zone, Josh Daffron dove in front of a Hartfield pass and hauled in the interception. The turnover ended up doing more bad than good, however, when two plays later running back Hunter Lyons was taken down in the end zone for a safety and a 9-6 Hartfield lead. The Hawks didn’t waste any time on the ensuing possession, punching it in three plays later to go up 16-6 at the half.

PCA’s offense moved the ball with relative ease between the 20s, and in the second half unleashed its deep stable of running backs to insert itself back into things. Four alternating runs by Lyons and Logan Pickering to start the third quarter pushed PCA into scoring position, and Pickering capped the drive by stampeding 24 yards into the end zone to bring the score within three.

The senior ended the night with 84 yards and a touchdown, while his companion Lyons finished the game with 75 yards on 11 carries.

“They’re hungry,” Lynch said of his running backs. “They ran the ball extremely well. The line blocked well.”

After a Hartfield field goal, Morgan threw his second touchdown to Daffron to knot the game at 19, but it was as close as PCA got. On a night when Eagles players were slugging down pickle juice faster than water to combat late-game cramps, Hartfield took advantage of its roster size to put two more touchdowns on the scoreboard and ice the game away.

“We just came up short. A lot of dropped passes, a lot of mental mistakes. It felt like we were in the game all the way up until the fourth quarter started,” Lynch said. “We gave up too many big plays on defense. We played good defensively other than the few big plays we gave up. They broke our backs and we couldn’t recover from it.”

Special teams also suffered, when the Hawks scooped up a shanked 15-yard punt and took it to the house to push the proverbial dagger into PCA’s throat.

The loss was an especially tough one for Lynch and his team, which he thought had every opportunity to take control of the contest. But the second-year head coach is determined not to let this defeat mentally beat his squad as it takes on Newton Academy on the road next week.

“You’ve just got to build them back up after a loss like this. It’s a tough loss. We were tied going into the fourth quarter and we just gave up too many big plays,” Lynch said.

“We just had some mistakes and we have to coach them up on it, teach them. We’ve got some young guys playing, we’re short-handed, but you can make all the excuses you want to. When you boil it all down, it’s wins and losses, and we took the loss.”

Briarfield 26, Tallulah Academy 24

Cash Bilberry ran for 189 yards and three touchdowns — including a 63-yarder with 5:34 left that proved to be the game-winner — to lead Briarfield Academy past Tallulah Academy (1-1) in MAIS eight-man football action.

Ryan Hodge ran for 126 yards and two touchdowns for Tallulah, while Mason Todd threw for one touchdown, ran for another score, and also tossed a pair of two-point conversion passes. Dakota Cone caught three passes for 139 yards and a touchdown.

Todd’s 44-yard TD pass to Cone and Hodge’s 15-yard TD run rallied Tallulah from a 12-point deficit in the second half. However, on the next play from scrimmage after Hodge’s TD, Bilberry broke off his long touchdown run to give Briarfield the lead for good.

SIA 36, Clinton Christian 0

Cooper Anthony rushed for 166 yards and three touchdowns to lead Sharkey-Issaquena Academy (2-0) to a rout of Clinton Christian and its 16th consecutive victory.

Austin Steed added 48 yards and a touchdown on the ground, and Jake Martin tossed a 64-yard TD pass for his only completion of the game.

SIA held Clinton Christian to 130 yards of total offense. Victor Villareal had two sacks and Weston Joiner had one for the Confederates.

Hartfield 33, PCA 19

Records: PCA (1-1); Hartfield Academy (1-1)

Up next: PCA at Newton Academy, Friday, 7 p.m.

The skinny: Mistakes too much for Eagles to overcome in loss to Hartfield