Short-handed Flashes fall against East Rankin

Published 12:33 am Saturday, September 2, 2023

St. Aloysius wasn’t able to pull out a victory on Friday night, but just getting there felt like one.

A wave of illnesses left the Flashes short-handed and only able to practice twice all week. They fought through it to give East Rankin Academy a tough game before losing 22-17.

“We had a first-year starter in at one point and a ninth-grader playing positions they hadn’t played before. They were out there due to people being exhausted or whatever the case may be,” St. Al coach Bubba Nettles said. “But they were still out there giving it everything they’ve got. It was all you could ask for, and it almost turned out to be enough.”

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Liam Wilkerson scored three rushing touchdowns for East Rankin (1-2), including a 6-yard run early in the fourth quarter that put the Patriots ahead 22-10.

St. Al answered back with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Carson Smith to Robert Lee with about five minutes left, but couldn’t recover the ensuing onside kick.

“We were out of timeouts and they just ran it and bled the clock out,” Nettles said.

St. Al (0-3) scored a total of 22 points in its first two games, and nearly surpassed that by scoring three times in the second half on Friday.

Smith finished 10-of-16 passing for 212 yards and two touchdowns, to go along with 51 rushing yards. He tossed a 19-yard TD to Damien Reeves and the 16-yarder to Lee.

John Ellis Montgomery kicked a 45-yard field goal.

Reeves finished with three receptions for 85 yards and Lee had three for 35. Thompson Fortenberry had 55 rushing yards.

“For only having those two practices, these kids showed up and played like I knew they were capable of,” Nettles said. “We struggled a little offensively in the first half and I came in and challenged the offensive line. Those kids responded to that challenge and they blocked great in the second half.”

On defense, Clark Hobson had two sacks and Dalton Windham an interception.

Getting the offense on track, Nettles said, was good to see heading into next week’s MAIS District 2-4A opener at Tri-County.

“These kids are leaving out of here riding high because they now know we’ve put together a half,” Nettles said. “We were great defensively the entire game. Finally, the offense began clicking the second half and it started up front.”