When Vidalia senior running back Michael Randall arrived at Jefferson Playground in Metairie for the Vikings’ Class 2A second round contest against Redeemer-Seton, he knew it would be a tough night.
“It was a fairground and they had chalk lines were caked on,” Randall said. “That field was terrible.”
“I would hit the ground making a tackle and the chalk would burn my eyes,” said Vidalia High cornerback Brett Hinson.
The undefeated Vikings entered the game as the No. 3 seed, defeating Livonia 50-7 in the first round.
Redeemer-Seton, seeded No. 19 was the host team after upsetting Oakdale 42-18 on the road in the first round.
“They were the toughest team I played against my whole career besides West St. John,” Hinson said. “They matched up with us almost better than anyone.”
Randall’s number would be called twice in two win-or-lose situations at the end of the game.
Randall scored a touchdown with 7:39 remaining to pull the Vikings to within 22-21.
The touchdown came on a fourth-and-five play in which Randall seemed to be bottled up, but extra effort put him in the end zone.
Chris Williams had a sizable gain to the Redeemer-Seton 12-yard line to set up the winning score.
“Coach (Dee) Faircloth called for an option play,” Randall said. “I was a little worried because (quarterback) Tony (Hawkins) never pitched the ball on the option. The other team was always looking for the pitch. But Tony got hit and pitched it to me. There was a guy waiting for me in the hole, which was a big mistake. I just ran over him.”
“That’s always how it is done, trying to make somebody commit,” Hawkins said. “They committed to me so I pitched the ball. It felt good seeing Michael run into the end zone.”
Faircloth decided against having Jeffrey Anderson attempted the point-after kick and decided to go for the win.
“Their defense was tough,” Faircloth said. “I didn’t know if we would be able to get back down there again.”
A pass from Tony Hawkins to Chris Williams on the conversion attempt led to an interference call against Redeemer-Seton, moving the ball to the 1 1/2 yard line.
Play was stopped because the clock ran on the conversion.
Randall looked at Faircloth and told him he could get it.
“We called for a loaded kickout and I told him he better get it,” Faircloth said after the game. “He was actually hit at the line of scrimmage, but carried a few guys into the end zone with him.”
“I knew I could get it,” said Randall, who drives a truck and resides in Denham Springs. “But when I got the ball there was no hole. I had to really fight for that.”
The win marked the first time Vidalia would be playing in a quarterfinal playoff contest in 18 years.
A C.J. Williams interception and Ken Johnson fumble recovery were keys to the win.
Vidalia scored first on a 29-yard TD pass from Hawkins to Randall.
Anderson added the kick.
A safety where the Ram quarterback was tackled by Stephen Cooper, Chase Clayton and others brought the Vikings to within 14-9.
The Vikings went into the dressing room with a 15-14 lead as Hawkins completed passes to Williams and Rodney Washington, Hawkins took it in from two yards out with 12.7 seconds remaining in the first half.
Johnson had two interceptions, while Hinson had his second playoff interception.
“We were playing a cover 2 and the guy beat me off the line,” Hinson said. “But Ken Johnson tipped the ball in the air and I was running and caught it. That was a really fun game to play.”
Vidalia defeated Mamou 46-12 the next week to advance to another game near New Orleans, this time at West St. John.
West St. John was led by future LSU stars Tyson Jackson and Quinn Johnson and Louisiana Tech all-star running back Patrick Johnson.
The Vikings lost that game to a team loaded with college players by a 33-8 score.
“We had a great run,” Hawkins said. “But I wish we could have taken it all the way.”