Ray’s touchdown with 4 seconds left gives PCA the victory

Published 12:28 am Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Porter’s Chapel Academy Eagles were hardly at their best on Friday night. They just wound up with the best ending possible.

Brayden Ray, aided by a huge push from his teammates, scored on a 1-yard run with four seconds left in the game to give PCA a 13-9 victory over Claiborne Christian on homecoming.

The Eagles kept their wild card hopes alive by overcoming a nine-point deficit in the second half, two turnovers — including a fumble inside the 5-yard line — and game-ending injuries to four starters.

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“A win’s a win. They’re hard to come by. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing. We’re glad to have a win regardless of what happens and what we go through and who we play,” PCA coach Blake Purvis said. “Our goal is to win by one or however many, and it doesn’t matter how you win. You just have to win.”

Among the injured was starting quarterback Tristan Pickering, who rolled his ankle late in the first quarter. He did not return and spent the rest of the game on crutches on the sideline.

In his place stepped Jake Arias, a starting linebacker who had taken one snap at quarterback this season. The junior put the Eagles on his back down the stretch, however.

Late in the third quarter, with PCA trailing 9-0 and facing a third-and-5 at the Claiborne 23, Arias took the ball on a quarterback keeper and ran 18 yards for a first down. Two plays later, Glenn Alan Kittrell scored and Jagger Weekly added the PAT to cut it to 9-7.

Arias had a sack on defense early in the fourth quarter to end a Claiborne drive, and on PCA’s final drive of the game he kicked the heroics up a notch.

Arias’ first completion of the game came on fourth-and 3 from the PCA 41 with less than three minutes to go and netted a first down. He then carried the ball four consecutive times to move it from midfield to the Claiborne 15.

“He kept on calling my number, and I just kept on pulling through. My line blocked for me, kept me healthy as I was running, and I couldn’t have done it without them,” Arias said.

Carter White went off the left side to take it to the 1 on the next play and got out of bounds with 12 seconds to go. With one timeout left, Purvis elected to go for the touchdown and called for a fullback dive. Ray took the handoff and ran into a pile of bodies at the goal line, but kept his feet moving. The surge from he and the line pushed him into the end zone for the go-ahead score with four seconds to go.

“I knew my line was going to push. I knew I couldn’t do it by myself. They did everything they could, and I did everything I could, and we got it,” Ray said. “It’s indescribable. Nobody should ever not have to feel that feeling. It’s awesome.”

PCA finished with 275 rushing yards as a team. White led the way with 102, Kittrell had 69, Arias 68 and Ray 36 as the Eagles ran it 54 times and only attempted three passes.

Reed Anders led Claiborne (3-3) with 79 rushing yards on eight attempts. Most of those came on a 56-yard touchdown run in the first half.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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