CALHOUN CITY – There were plenty of heroes for Calhoun City on Friday night in its Class 2A quarterfinal game. But with the game on the line, Calhoun City senior Tray Pratt made the play that will remain on the minds of Wildcats’ fans.
With East Webster driving for the potential game-winning points, Pratt picked off a pass at the Wildcats’ 10-yard line with 54 seconds left in the game, preserving a 23-21 victory in front of a standing-room only crowd.
“I saw them throwing a hitch route and I just broke on it,” said Pratt, who also had four receptions for 43 yards. “I was wanting to take it to the end zone but I didn’t make it.”
But Pratt did well enough to help Calhoun City (14-0) advance to the Class 2A North finals on Friday. The Wildcats will host West Boliver (12-2) with a berth to Jackson on the line.
Built up as a battle of unbeatens for nearly a month now, this game more than lived up to the hype. As expected, it came down to the closing minute.
“And it did like most thought it would,” said Calhoun City head coach Perry Liles. “We got down 13-0 an I was so proud of my guys for fighting back.”
The Wildcats took the lead for good with 3:55 left in the game via a 28-yard field goal by senior Raheem Roberson.
The Wolverines (13-1) held a 13-6 lead at the break and led 21-13 with 2:21 left in the third quarter. Ladrick Patterson connected with Josh Gladney from three yards out to give East Webster the eight-point advantage.
But Calhoun City quarterback J.R. Jennings would not be denied despite a slow start. Jennings cut the deficit to 21-20 with a nine-yard scoring toss to Tavon Primer.
On the night, Jennings completed 19-of-31 for 192 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
“We said at halftime we were gonna win and that’s what we did,” said Liles. “We started slow, offensively, but J.R. found his rhythm in the second half. We started hitting more of our out routes and moved the ball well.”
East Webster senior fullback Timakis Bell had 18 carries for 97 yards and one touchdown. But the Wolverines could not overcome their own mistakes in the end.
“Five turnovers for us,” said East Webster head coach Jimmy Carden. “That’s way too many against a great team like Calhoun City. Our guys fought hard but we just had too many turnovers.”
Paul Jones/Special to the Journal