This is game No. 16 out of the top 40 games played by Concordia Parish teams.
Vidalia High’s Dee Faircloth Viking Stadium has been the scene of many defensive gems through the years.
But the defense was thrown out the window when Jena came to Vidalia on October 23, 2003.
After exchanging scores, the Vikings pulled out a hard-earned 50-46 win,
It was the fifth game of the year in a season that would go down as one of the most unforgettable in Viking history.
Jena entered the game scoring 36 points on Block in a win and 36 to traditional power Ouachita Christian in a loss.
Vidalia had scored 48 points on Rayville, 38 on Avoyelles and 51 on Newellton.
Vidalia entered the game at 4-0, carrying a 14-game regular season win streak.
Everyone was expecting a shootout. But no one expected what transpired that night.
In a game filled with several momentum swings, missed opportunities and big plays, Viking senior C.J. Williams made the biggest play of the night.
Tony Hawkins 10-yard run with 1:05 remaining gave the Vikings the win.
“That’s the wildest game I have ever been involved with,” Hawkins said.
Williams, who had one catchfor seven yards in 2002, was on the receiving end of a 70-yard catch and run in which he shaked and baked Giant defenders the final 35 yards before diving into the end zone to give 44-40 lead.
C.J. Williams caught one pass for seven yards in 2002.
He finished with seven receptions for 189 yards against Jena.
Jena led Vidalia 40-22 with 2:26 remaining in the third quarter.
“We were trailing by three touchdowns in the fourth quarter and came back to win that ballgame,” Faircloth said. “That was one of the most dangdest things I’d ever seen. That was incredible and it kept us unbeaten. I never saw a team come back from that far down in the fourth quarter.”
After the 70-yard touchdown pass from Hawkins to Williams, the Vikings took a 44-40 lead with 3:28 left remaining in the game.
But even more craziness ensued as Jena struck back with a 45-yard touchdown pass from Adam Jones to Rafeal Dangerfield with 2:08 remaining to give the Giants a 48-44 advantage.
After a unintentional short squib kick on the ensuing kickoff, Michael Randall had runs of 14 and 15 yards to the Jena 15-yard line. Five yards later, Hawkins scored with winning TD.
“I said, ‘Geaw, we’ve come back this far, and we give up a touchdown on one play,’” Faircloth said. “Then we got the ball back, and here we go. Tony Hawkins put on a clinic running and throwing the ball.”
“The Jena game was like ‘Wow,’” said Vidalia senior Matt Hinson. “What it boiled down to is that both teams made mistakes, but instead of just getting 15 or 20 yard plays on mistakes, both of us where getting touchdowns. We really didn’t step up our game till the second half.”
“We sort of had a calm feeling and felt all year that no matter what happened, we knew we were going to win the game, especially against Jena,” said Vidalia junior Brett Hinson, the younger brother of Matt. “But it was a sorta of calm feeling that no matter what happens we are going to end up winning this game.”
Faircloth was laughing about the score, stating “What a basketball game.”
“That was one of the most satisfying games I ever coached in,” Fairlcoth said. “The kids could have folded, but Tony would not let them. He did a heckuva job.”
Ken Johnson intercepted a pass at midfield to end the game
Vidalia trailed 40-22 with 2:26 remaining in the third quarter.
After the Giants scored 40, Vidalia’s Steven Cooper leveled Jena quarterback Jordan Jones on the conversion attempt.
“I switched sides and since he was a left-handed quarterback I was able to come in on his blind side,” Cooper said after the game,
Cooper finished the game with six solo tackles, nine assists, one tackle for loss, caused a fumble and recovered another fumble.
Williams caught three passes for 92 yards in the second half.
“Tony saw I was getting open and got it to me,” Williams said.
Williams had extra motivation after his aunt, Idellia Banks, passed away days prior to the game
“On the pass to CJ when I went to the sidelines Coach told me it was open. I knew if we could just get the ball back we could win it.”
Vidalia trailed 8-0 before Williams returned a kickoff 72 yards to the Jena 13-yard line where Randall scored and Hawkins ran in the two-point conversion.
The win was the 15th straight regular season win for the Vikings.
The Vikings advanced to the Class 2A semifinals in 2003, falling to West St. John in Edgard.
West St. John, with two future LSU and NFL players in Tyson Jackson and Quinn Johnson, defeated Sterlington 41-21 for the state title.