With the win, the Wildcats (9-5) advance to play for the 4A North Half Friday in Cleveland against Lafayette who defeated Noxubee County 9-0. The game will be at 7 p.m.
"We had two good stands tonight,” CHS head coach Kelly Causey said. “Our defense has kind of struggled a little bit, but the last few weeks we have done a lot better. We've had some guys to really step up. I am so proud of the guys for how they fought tonight.”
The Wildcats and Lions started the game with punts, but once the Lions’ offense got the ball back they put together a nine-play, 74-yard drive that resulted in a 15-yard touchdown run from Ronald Ladd, Jr. with 2:25 left in the first. Terreous Johnson added the two-point conversion for an 8-0 Rosa Fort lead.
The Wildcats’ offense answered the strong drive by the Lions by putting one of their own into action.
Cleveland received the ball and orchestrated a masterful 10 play, 78-yard drive on the ground that culminated in a 12-yard touchdown run from junior running back Andonte Maxie with 9:53 left in the second quarter. The conversion attempt failed and the score was 8-6.
The Cleveland defense helped the team take the lead on Rosa Fort's next possession as Lions’ quarterback Larrial Tyler, Jr. could not handle the high snap. Cleveland's Darren Williams scooped up the ball and returned it 11 yards for the score with 9:26 on the second quarter clock. Maxie rushed in the two-point conversion for a 14-8 Wildcat lead.
The Cleveland defense continued to flex its muscles as Truman Brown tipped a deep pass from Tyler and teammate Vaughnte Dorsey was there to intercept the ball, putting CHS back in business.
The good fortune did not last long as Garret McGee fumbled the ball back to Rosa Fort.
The Lions took over on Cleveland's 43-yard line and decided to go to the aerial attack. That decision almost proved costly as Cleveland's Jatavis Scott broke on a pass and almost intercepted it with nothing, but green in front of him, but he could not hang on to the pass.
Scott's inability to hang on to the ball came back to haunt the sophomore corner back as he was beaten two plays later by Dontayvius Stapleton for a 36-yard touchdown pass from Tyler with 5:46 left in the second quarter. The extra point kick failed, but the Lions had tied the game at 14-14.
The Wildcats had to punt the ball on their next possession and disaster would strike as Trace Edwards mishandled the punt snap and was tackled on the one-yard line to put the Lions in business.
The Wildcats’ defense came up clutch and forced the Lions into a fourth and goal situation. On that final down, it was the CHS defense standing tall as it won that battle to get the ball back and run out the first half clock for a 14-14 halftime lead.
The third quarter was a defensive battle by both teams, but as the Lions started to drive the ball, the Wildcat defense stepped up again as Brown intercepted a pass from Tyler at the 30-yard line and returned it 40 yards to the Lions’ 30-yard line.
The Wildcats offense drove the ball into the fourth quarter, but on fourth and goal from the two-yard line, Butler and Dorsey got mixed up in the backfield and fumbled the ball to end the scoring threat and give the ball back to Rosa Fort.
Not getting the touchdown was huge, but on the first play for the Lions another high snap gave the Wildcats a safety and a 16-14 lead.
Along with the safety, the Wildcats received the kickoff, but the Lions’ defense stopped the Wildcats drive to take over on downs on the Wildcats’ 44-yard line.
The Lions went to a direct snap offense with Tadarius Clinton taking the snaps and running over the left side of the Wildcat defense.
Clinton drove the ball down to the one-yard line, but a false start penalty pushed the Lions back to the six-yard line.
With no movement on a few plays the Lions elected to try a 23-yard field goal and the ball was kicked through the uprights for a 17-16 Rosa Fort lead with 3:10 left in the game.
On the ensuing kickoff, Dorsey received the ball and brought it out for a huge return to the 50-yard line.
Following a three-yard run from Maxie, the Wildcats had second down and seven from the Lions' 47-yard line.
On the next play, the Wildcats lined up to run their usual toss sweep, but this time Butler took the toss and stopped, nearly losing his balance on a slippery field and connected with Kyran Parker who was running all alone for a 47-yard touchdown pass with 2:13 left in the game.
"At that point when we had been running the speed sweep that way they had been coming up and hitting us in the mouth so we took a shot at it and luckily we got it off,” Causey said. “He (Butler) stumbled there and we thought he wasn't going to be able to throw it, but he did and Kyran made a great catch. That's the hardest catch to make when you're by yourself and the ball is just floating in the air.”
On the ensuing kickoff the Lions got a nice return to the 43-yard line by Clinton.
The Lions offense went to work getting the ball down to the four-yard line with under 30-seconds left to play.
The Wildcat defense stood tall and on fourth and goal with one-second remaining from the two-yard line, Tyler's pass was knocked down by Brown to give the Wildcats the victory.
Maxie led the Wildcats’ offense with 86 rushing yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion on 21 carries, followed by Butler who rushed for 81 yards on 14 carries and was 1-of-1 for 49 yards passing with a touchdown. Parker had one catch for a 49-yard touchdown to round out the offense for Cleveland. Dorsey and Brown had interceptions, and Williams had a fumble return for touchdown to spearhead the Wildcats’ defense.
Rosa Fort ended its season at 11-2.