Upset at Melz

Vidalia lineman Dominik Harveston sacks Ferriday quarterback Byron Milligan in 2017.

This is game No. 7 of the top 40 games featuring parish team.  

It was Rocky, Hoosiers, Rudy, Miracle and Seabiscuit all wrapped into one. 

On October 13, 2017, Vidalia stunned the state with a 20-12 upset win over Ferriday at Melz Field.

"We knew we were the underdog big-time," said Vidalia lineman Dominik Harveston. "But we wanted to be remembered as the team that beat Ferriday and go down in history. Our adrenaline was really pumping. That game seemed to go by so fast. There was no other game like it."

Both teams came into the game with one loss -- the Vikings falling to district foe Rayville, while Ferriday was coming off a loss to Class 5A Denham Springs.

Ferriday had won the previous eight games, outscoring the Vikings 177-8 in the previous four games.

It was only fitting the final Vidalia touchdown came after Braden Randall hit a Ferriday running back in his own end zone, causing a fumble which Moshen Musa recovered to put Vidalia up 20-0 with 25 seconds remaining in the first half.

Ferriday quarterback Byron Milligan then hit a 37-yard pass to Jamien Green to the Viking 28-yard line with 15 seconds remaining.

A tense Vidalia coach Dee Faircloth paced the sideline knowing a Ferriday touchdown at the end of the first half would just about negate everything the Vikings had down to this point.

The next pass was knocked down by Josh Marsaw, followed by Vidalia's Dominik Harveston sacking Ferriday quarterback Byron Milligan near midfield to end the half as Faircloth jumped out on the field with his right arm looking like a windmill on steroids. The horn sounded and the Viking home side exploded in a races cheer  as the fired-up Vikings ran to the dressing room.

You knew that Ferriday was going to get back in the game at some point. The Trojans used big plays to get back in the game in the second half.

And poor clock management by the officials in the final minute added to the drama.  

All of which added to the final dramatics and blood pressure rising in the Vidalia sideline.

But when the clock finally hit 0:00, the Vikings celebrated like Rocky, Jimmy Chitwood and Herb Brooks.

"That was one of the most unluckiest, unusual wins I've ever had," Faircloth said of the Friday the 13th win. "But I told everyone at our pep rally that day that I woke up, looked out my window  and said it was a great day to be a Viking. That;s when it started. But I was really just happy not to get run out of football stadium. When we scored first I told our coaches, 'OK, the key is if we can hold that offense. They were an awesome ballclub. We had four guys hitting their quarterback on their first offensive play and I said to myself right then, 'These boys are ready to play.'"

Faircloth, a member of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association/Louisiana High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame, posted a 268-201-6 record at Vidalia High over 45 years.

The win guaranteed Vidalia (6-1) a winning season for the first time since 2004 (6-4).

The players and coaches handed the ball to Faircloth, who returned as head coach tin 2017 after having to step down in 2009 when he was battling cancer. This was the third game ball Faircloth ever received, getting the game ball after Vidalia beat Franklin County 16-0 in the 1982 River City Bowl and the game ball from Vidalia's 7-6 win over Block in 1979.

Faircloth had the players sign the football that week. And, of course, he deflected all the praise to his coaches and players - players who have gone 5-25 the past three years.

"These guys had to walk in the back door of the Natchez Mall the past few years," Faircloth said after the game. "Now they can walk in the front door and people will say, 'Hey, look, that's a Vidalia Viking football player.' We had to play a perfect game, and we just about did. This game goes to my assistant coaches -- Mike Norris, Rob Faircloth, Kale Davis and Kejuane Bates did a heckuva job. I'm just so proud of our kids. They played through some adversity, but was able to hold on to the end."

Bates passed away this year from the coronavirus.

Ferriday, 5-2, dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 in the Class 2A non-select power rankings, while Vidalia jumped from No. 18 to No. 10.

"We laid an egg," said Ferriday head coach Stanley Smith. "And they came out with their hair on fire. Vidalia was more focused and they came out and executed. Our mindset was not there. We didn't hold our blocks or get off their blocks. We were riding our high horse a little bit."

Vidalia came out with trickery on the first play from scrimmage from its own 35 after a 19-yard kickoff return by Tony Tolliver.

Vidalia quarterback Tristan Weatherly pitched the ball to Cam'Ron Randall to the right. Randall pulled up and fired a pass downfield to a wide open Kerryon Swift who raced down to the Ferriday 17-yard line.

Two plays later, Randall ran up the middle from 16 yards out and Leo Lazano kicked the extra point to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead.

The option pass was something Vidalia Offensive Coordinator Mike Norris said was set up in August of 2017. Norris was recently named head football coach at Vidalia after serving as head baseball coach for four years.

"In five of six of our games this year we ran a Viking toss as an homage to Coach Faircloth," Norris said. "When Coach Faircloth was hired, everybody told me, 'Well, you know he's just going to run sweeps and dives.' So I called a sweep, but I told everybody we were going to run a halfback pass off of it because they've seen all or films and once they see the toss their cornerback is going to come flying up. We threw it to Kerryon, who just started playing this year, and got the big yardage. I think it shellshocked them a little bit. Then Cam'Ron made a cutback for the touchdown. We knew if we got some confidence early it would be big for us."

Smith said he told his players to watch for that play.

"My dad played for Coach Faircloth, so I was expecting it," Smith said. "But we weren't disciplined. We got caught up with our eyes looking in the backfield."

"They knew it was coming but we had been working on it all week and we just ran it to perfection."

Vidalia went up 14-0 as Weatherly passed 17 yards to McCoy on the left side of the end zone early in the second quarter.

Ferriday moved down to the Vidalia 29, facing fourth and four with 6:25 remaining in the first quarter, but an incomplete pass gave the ball back to the Vikings.

The Vikings moved the ball near midfield before Weatherly passed to McCoy for 12 yards to the Ferriday 40. Facing fourth and four at the Trojan 35, Weatherly hit Randall on a quick pass to the Ferriday 29.

The Vikings were stopped at the Ferriday 31, where Weatherly pooched a punt to the Ferriday 4-yard line.

After a run for loss and penalty, Vidalia's Braden Randall hit the Ferriday running back in his own end zone, causing a fumble that was recovered by Mushen Musa for the third Viking score. The PAT was blocked, leaving the score at 20-0.

On Ferriday's final drive of the first half, Harveston had four tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

"Everybody was doing their job," Harverston said. "And that allowed me to get in the backfield. When I got a sack it fired everybody up."

Vidalia's defense kept Ferriday in check until Milligan ran nine yards to the Vidalia 25, passed 16 yards to Lewis Matthews to the nine and then made a Johnny Manziel-type touchdown runs, avoiding five tacklers on a 10-yard TD scramble to bring the Trojans to within 20-6 with 3:23 remaining.

Both teams exchanged punts before Vidalia was forced to punt from its own 18 when Marsaw was run into attempting to punt which moved the ball to the Viking 28 with 6:37 remaining in the third period.

The Vikings punted as Marsaw boomed another high kick to the Ferriday 40.

Vidalia's Zach Smith then intercepted a pass to stop the Trojan drive.

Ferriday got the ball back and Milligan thew long to Jamien Green for a 49-yard scoring play with 1:13 remaining in the third quarter. Ferriday had too many men on the field on the conversion and was stopped short on the conversion attempt.

Ferriday had one more chance from its 38 as Milligan used a 20-yard run to move the ball to the Vidalia 18.

Milligan then ran to the 8 yard line with nine seconds remaining. The Trojans were stopped at the Vidalia four when time expired.

Weatherly completed 8-of-13 passes for 90 yards and no interceptions and was sacked only once, for five yards.

"Everything just felt right tonight," Weatherly said. "We knew we had to hit some quick passes. This is the biggest win I've been associated with. This is awesome. Now we want to win district."

Milligan, subbing in for injured Kobe Dillon, was 11-of-19 for 191 yards with one interception. He rushed for 121 yards, despite being sacked eight times by the Vikings.

"That was definitely a wake-up call for us," Smith said. "It let us know you can't underestimate anybody and not come into a game unprepared."




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