This is game No. 27 out of the top 40 games played by Concordia Parish teams.
Ferriday High fans who headed for the exit gate with their team trailing 22-6 at the start of the fourth quarter at Melz Field on October 16, 1998, missed out on 34 points being scored in the final quarter and their home team pulling out an amazing 32-30 win over the Vikings.
“I remember halftime of that game,” said then Ferriday coach Cordell Bailey. “It wasn’t about strategy, I asked the kids where their hearts were. I didn’t say a word about X’s or O’s, I let the assistant coaches handle that. I just asked where their hearts were at for this rivalry.”
Bailey said it was a different week when Vidalia was the opponent on Friday.
“I remember one game I probably lost myself (20-6 Vidalia win in 1995),” Bailey said. “We had no reason to start preparation on Sunday, but I always wanted to be one step ahead. Because we were playing Vidalia, we practiced Sunday. Looking back, that was a mistake. But it was always a special week playing Vidalia. I remember going to Natchez one night and Vidalia still had their lights on practicing. I was wondering if I should call all my players back out to practice some more.”
Ferriday blocked a punt and field goal, recovered two fumbled snaps and allowed a big punt return by the Trojans in what Viking head coach Dee Faircloth called “a total collapse.”
“Talk about a team coming completely apart,” Faircloth said. “It was like being in a house and all four walls fall in. I have never and will never get over that one. I still have nightmares today.”
“I remember it being loud, really loud,” said former Vidalia quarterback/defensive back Jarrett Hoffpauir. “I remember it going back and forth and thinking, ‘They won’t go away.’ Those were two pretty danged-good football teams.”
Vidalia scored first on a 30-yard pass from Jarrett Hoffpauir to Ronald Ellis.
“I remember that game being very physical,” said Elllis, who also played defensive end. “We had an outstanding running attack, which helped out our passing game.”
Ferriday answered with a 1-yard scoring run by Cory Gordon to tie the game at 6-6.
Burns scored on a 1-yard run with 3:53 remaining in the first half to put Vidalia up 14-6 after Hoffpauir passed to Edward Turner on the conversion.
The Vikings took a 22-6 lead into halftime as Justin Seals scored on a 37-yard run and Hoffpauir passed to Ellis on the conversion.
“I remember us getting booed by our classmates as we ran off the field at halftime,” said Ferriday quarterback A’ron Thomas. “It kind of motivated us some more. But one thing Coach Bailey had instilled in us was to keep fighting and never give up.”
“The one thing I remember is that we were being heckled by one fan standing at the fence gate,” Adrian Bailey said. “He was really giving us a hard time.”
After a scoreless third quarter, Thomas hit Adrian Bailey on a 26-yard pass which led to a 3-yard TD run by Cleothis Cummings, who is now a Delta Charter assistant football coach. Bailey had two key catches in the contest.
“That was really something because two weeks earlier I could not catch a cold,” Adrian said.
“There is really no difference with the Vidalia game as a player or coach,” Cummings said. “I don’t have pads on now. It’s a great rivalry and good for the parish.”
Vidalia fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Thomas hit Lavon Snyder on a 19-yard scoring pass. “There were a couple of passes I thought I threw out of bounds, but Lavon came down with them,” Thomas said.
Gordon ran in the conversion with 6:41 remaining in the game to pull the Trojans to within 22-20.
Ferriday grabbed its first lead minutes later after Kendre Conner recovered an onside kick as Thomas passed to Snyder for a 22-yard score for a 26-22 Trojan advantage with 4:32 remaining in the game.
Snyder finished with four catches for 66 yards.
Following a Viking fumble, Gordon scored on a 13-yard run to put Ferriday up 32-22.
“We got the momentum and then bad things started happening to them,” Adrian Bailey said.
But Vidalia answered quickly as Burl “Buck” Burns, who transferred from Ferriday to Vidalia that season, tossed a halfback pass 42 yards to Ellis.
Burns finished with 118 rushing yards on 28 carries.
“Buck has his guns blazing that night,” Cummings said.
Hoffpauir passed to Donald Hooper on the conversion to pull the Vikings to within 32-30 with 1:37 remaining.
Vidalia got the ball back and drove into Trojan territory where Burns attempted a 35-yard field goal with two seconds remaining.
Ferriday’s Cedric Jefferson blocked the kick to end the game.
“We had some blown assignments in the second half,” Burns said.
Burns was part of a “thunder and lightning” backfield along with speedster Dariel Mays, who would be named Class 2A Most Valuable Offensive Player the following year.
“Dariel was hurt that night,” Burns said. “In the second half they had 10 men in the box. That was the first time I had seen that all season.”
“It was a very devastating loss to Ferriday, but I don’t feel it lingered on us too much afterwards,” Ellis said. “Individually. I thought of it more as I got older. At the time, I moved on real fast.”
“We knew we had to keep our poise,” Thomas said. “It was just one of those games we had to win. That rivalry is in our blood and we hated losing to Vidalia.”
“We just sat on the floor and did not even talk about the game when we got to the locker room,” Adrian Bailey said. “We were that drained.”
Ferriday finished its season at 3-4.
Vidalia won its final three games, all district, and finished 4-6 as district champions.
The Vikings beat Delhi 59-20 in a first-round playoff game as Burns and Mays both rushed for 100 yards and Burns scored five touchdowns.
The Vikings fell to South Cameron in Cameron 9-8 in the second round.