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Bobcats turn back Pelahatchie

BOGUE CHITTO —  On a cold Friday night when coaches talked about their teams shooting themselves in the foot, Bogue Chitto wide receiver Germie Martin broke free just in time to pull in a 27-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brock Roberts. That TD, plus a hard-hitting defense, proved to be the difference in a turnover-filled game, which saw the Bobcats winning 25-22 over the Pelahatchie Chiefs on Troy Smith Field.

     That historic victory advances the No. 1-ranked and unbeaten (13-0) Bobcats to the South State Class 1A championship game at Stringer Friday night. Stringer eliminated Noxapater 24-12 in the other South second round game.

     In the North, French Camp plays Shaw for the North crown and a berth in the Class 1A state title game, Nov. 30, at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson.

     Roberts was intercepted 4 times by the Chiefs’ alert and athletic secondary but he never lost confidence in his ability. The Bobcats were down 22-19 when Chiefs’ quarterback Darrin Sherman fumbled a snap that was recovered by BC end James “Piero” Blackwell at BC’s 47, 1:45 left in the third quarter.

     After the recovery, Brandon Wells and Blackwell gained 12 yards each on consecutive carries. That set the stage for the Roberts-to-Martin scoring toss.

     “It wasn’t pretty but it worked,” said Martin. “When I turned around, it was there for me to catch.”

     Roberts recalled the moment.   “Germie said he was going to run for the end zone. I just threw it up and he caught it. They (defender) hit me late,” knocking him to the ground.

     Martin, meanwhile, was breaking clear in the secondary.  The TD catch ignited a loud celebration by the partisan crowd.

     “This is a sweet victory,” said Roberts. “We are going to South State. We won it in the trenches tonight.”

      Pelahatchie (10-3), runner-up to Noxapater in Region 3-1A, relied on a strong rushing attack. Sherman, wearing jersey No. 16 because he left his No. 3 at the house, attempted only 2 passes. Most importantly, the Chiefs fumbled 7 times and lost 6.      “It (fumble) looked like gold,” said Blackwell. “We kind of struggled in the first half but we got it going.”

     The last fumble was a high snap to Sherman who was working out of the shotgun formation at BC’s 25. Blackwell recovered at BC’s 37-yard line with 2:34 left to play.

     “Give Bogue Chitto all the credit,” said Pelahatchie coach Bill Ward. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot.”

     The Bobcats got off to a slow start. Chief defender Alfred Jones was the first to intercept Roberts,  returning the theft 46 yards for a TD late in the first quarter.

     Roberts and the Bobcats capitalized on a fumbled snap by Sherman as linebacker Jeremy Blackwell recovered at the Chiefs’ 22-yard line. Two plays later, Roberts scored from 10 yards out. Cameron Price kicked the Pat for a 7-6 Bobcat lead.

     A BC fumble by James Blackwell at his 30-yard line allowed the Chiefs to take the lead at halftime. Running back Keldrick Sullivan raced 30 yards down the sideline for the go-ahead TD. Cortez Ousley ran the 2-point conversion for a 14-7 advantage.

     Early in the third quarter, the teams swapped turnovers. Sherman fumbled at his 26 and BC’s Damien Terrell returned it to the 15. Five plays later, Jermaine Blackwell plunged over left tackle for the TD. BC trailed 14-13, after Price’s PAT kick sailed  wide left.

     BC’s Jimmy McNulty tackled Ousley for a 3-yard loss on fourth down at the Bogue Chitto 41. James Blackwell rushed for 32 yards on second down and Wells ran 25 yards for the TD, giving BC a 19-14 lead.

     The Chiefs responded with a quick strike. Sullivan streaked 66 yards to paydirt on first down. Sherman made a leap over the top on the 2-point conversion run and his team led 22-19 with 4:06 left in the third quarter.

     “It wasn’t pretty but we won,” said BC boss Gareth Sartin. “That means we get to move on.”

     Sartin had stopped by the Chiefs’ dressing room after the game to compliment their effort in a losing cause.

     “I’m proud of our guys,” said Sartin. “We kept battling. Our defense really stepped up and helped us out deep in our territory.”

     On defense, the Bobcats were led by Jeremy Blackwell’s 15 tackles and 2 fumble recoveries. Jermaine Blackwell also had 15 tackles and caused 2 fumbles. Zeek Perkins collected 13 tackles and Roberts made 10.