Little Rock Catholic's football team needed a jolt, and the Rockets got it on the first play of the fourth quarter Friday night at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
It was as if Coach John Fogleman flipped an energy switch, and boom, Catholic came to life, outscoring Van Buren 28-0 during the first 9:29 of the fourth quarter to pull out a 35-27 victory in a first-round Class 7A playoff game.
Catholic (7-4) advances to play Bentonville next Friday night.
For three quarters, it didn't look like the Rockets would be playing anybody, trailing 27-7, unable to move the ball on the Pointers feisty defense and unable to stop Van Buren junior quarterback Gary Phillips, who scrambles as well as he throws.
But everything changed on the first play of the fourth quarter when senior quarterback Jordan Edington found a wide-open Brooks O'Shea running a post pattern in the clear at midfield.
"Coach called one of my favorite plays," O'Shea said. "I broke and I saw it open. It was the best feeling ever, just running it like that."
O'Shea outraced the Pointers secondary down the visitor's sideline to reach the end zone for an 80-yard score, and Paul Owens added the extra point moments later to trim the deficit to 27-14.
O'Shea said he could feel things change after the play.
"Once we get momentum, we get going," he said. "We picked it up. That set the tone for sure."
Catholic's defense finally held its ground against Phillips, and the Rockets regained possession at the Pointers 49 after a 13-yard Van Buren punt.
A pass interference penalty moved Catholic to the Van Buren 28, and the Rockets returned to a ground game that had produced almost nothing for three quarters.
Senior Brian Alsbrook went for 20 yards on first down, and scored on the next play, an 8-yard run around left end, and it was 27-21 with 9:01 to play.
"The third touchdown we ran the ball," Fogleman said. "Not getting away from the run helped us."
Phillips, who ran for two touchdowns in the first half, moved the Pointers into Catholic territory on a 24-yard third-down scramble, but he was intercepted by cornerback Bryce Stine, the first of two interceptions by the senior in the game's final 5:35.
Catholic mixed runs by Edington and Alsbrook with two passes to O'Shea before Edington found senior receiver Nathan Johnson open down the middle for a 33-yard touchdown play with 3:30 remaining.
"This is the best feeling," Johnson said, "This team has so much heart it's unbelievable. ... Today just showed that we will fight to the very end."
Owen's extra point made it 28-27, and there was no stopping the Rockets after that.
Stine returned his second interception to the Van Buren 4, where the Rockets scored again to lead 35-27 with 2:31 to play.
"It's high school football," Fogleman said, "and it's fun. You've got to feel for them a little bit. It's just a good playoff game."
Van Buren Coach Crosby Tuck said he was still trying to figure out exactly what happened.
"The momentum really swung in the fourth quarter in a big way," Tuck said. "They played an unbelievable fourth quarter. We allowed a few things to happen."
Tuck said the Pointers (6-5) played well on both sides of the ball -- until the final 12 minutes began.
"To be in a position like that in the fourth quarter, and to give that up, is going to be a tough one," he said. "I don't know really why it went that way, after that play."
Sports on 11/16/2019
Print Headline: Rockets kick things in gear with 28-0 fourth-quarter run