Fort Smith Southside and Little Rock Catholic traded punches for three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, Southside landed the knockout.
Battling through constant rain on a chilly October evening, the Mavericks defeated Catholic 28-20 on Friday at War Memorial Stadium in a bout that featured few passes and was largely about dueling running games in slippery conditions.
Nine total passes were completed: Southside had seven and Catholic connected on two.
"Obviously, our passing game, and really from both sides, wasn't very good," Catholic Coach John Fogleman said. "The conditions had something to do with that. We were forced to run the ball. Just didn't make it happen."
Southside senior tailback Ricardo Savoy uncorked a 40-yard run on the Mavericks' first offensive play. Savoy later punched in an 18-yard touchdown.
"That first drive, they ran it right down our throat," Fogleman said.
The Rockets countered, as senior William Plafcan returned the subsequent kickoff 84 yards for a game-tying touchdown.
Southside quarterback Taye Gatewood found senior wideout Tyrese Solomon for an 18-yard touchdown early in the second quarter to retake the lead. Samy Johnson, Catholic's senior tailback, responded quickly with a 17-yard rushing touchdown and locked Friday's game in a 14-14 tie at halftime.
Gatewood, who finished with a Southside-high 138 rushing yards and added 7 completions for 101 passing yards and 2 touchdowns, gave the Mavericks a 21-14 lead with a 55-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
For the third time Friday, the ball slipped out of Gatewood's hand during a pass attempt with less than five minutes remaining in the third. The loose ball lingered in midair long enough for Catholic to intercept on Southside's 9. On the next play, Johnson scored his second rushing touchdown.
Catholic posted 173 total yards (172 rushing) of offense.
"When it rains like that, you never know what's going to happen," Southside Coach Jeff Williams said. "It takes a great player -- nobody does those things on purpose -- but he's resilient, and he let that play go and moved onto the next one."
The Mavericks blocked the extra point to maintain a 21-20 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Six seconds into the final quarter, Gatewood found redemption.
A 40-yard completion from Gatewood set up a 2-yard, uncontested touchdown pass to senior Darin Davenport that fooled Catholic's defense. Southside held onto its 28-20 lead throughout the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
"It was just really hard to throw and catch," Williams said. "We made some plays in the passing game to win the game. But overall, I'm really proud of everybody on the whole team."
Sports on 10/20/2018
Print Headline: Mavericks remain standing