This is game No. 17 of the top 40 games featuring parish team.

It was one of the most bizarre endings of a football game ever in Concordia Parish.

The date was November 22, 1985.

Vidalia's hopes for advancing to the Class 2A quarterfinals seemed lost after giving the ball up to Opelousas Catholic with 1:59 down 7-6.

But a blocked punt with a few seconds remaining allowed 5-foot-11, 205-pound fullback Joe Ray Hooker to attempt a 23-yard field goal with six seconds remaining to give Vidalia a 9-6 improbable win.

Hooker already missed a 23-yard field goal with five seconds left in the first half and missed an extra point.

Viking head coach Dee Faircloth and assistant coach Johnny  Lee Hoffpauir talked about running another play.

"Coach 'Hoff' was saying 'Coach, you know we have a little time left. We can take a shot in the end zone here.' And I said 'No, we're either going to win this game or we're going to lose it on this kick,'" Faircloth said. "Joe Ray Hooker got up there and he kicked that ball. That ball went inside that goal post about a foot and about a foot over. That's how weak the kick was, but it went in and our kids went crazy."

"Odds are against us that we won't get it done, and man he went out and executed it and got it done," said Vidalia all-State running back Eddie Ray Jackson. "Seeing it go through the uprights was one of the happiest days of my life."

"That was a great moment for the team and a great win," Hooker said. "I had practiced field goals all week in practice and was hitting them consistently. The first field goal I tried was a straight line drive barely clearing the line. I knew that I would have another opportunity to redeem myself, I just didn't know it would be the next-to-last play of the game. I just squared myself because we were kicking from an angle. When the ball was hiked, I didn't really look at the ball, just the goal post. And lo and behold the kick headed for the left goal post and was good by at least one foot. That was a very special win."

The field goal was set up after Opelousas Catholic had its quarterback fall down on the football on first down back to his own 24-yard line.

A questionable delay of game penalty moved it back to the visiting Viking 19.

Another quarterback downing the ball and delay penalty moved it back to the Opelousas Catholic inside its own 10-yard line with 15 seconds remaining.

The ensuing punt was blocked, going out of bounds on the visitor’s 6-yard line with seven seconds remaining.

 "The last two minutes of the game, we went for it on fourth down around the 30-yard line and they took over the ball," Faircloth said. "I had already told my kids 'alright, get ready to shake their hands, pick up all the cups because this game's over.' But we were the luckiest suckers. People who say they don't believe in luck, I say baloney.”

"Coach (Johnny Lee) Hoffpauir was in the crow's nest on the phones, and I said, 'Coach, we're sending the house,'" Faircloth said. "Most of our fans had already left. They must have gone to Pizza Hut and were stuffing their faces. We sent all our guys to block that punt, and I never will forget listening to Coach Hoffpauir on that phone. 

“When the ball was snapped, he said 'Coach, we ain't gonna get it' and about that time I hear the ball go thump!"

The ball shot straight up in the air after the punter hit his own personal protector in the behind with the ball.

"We didn't block it, they blocked it," Faircloth said. "The guy must have taken a couple steps back. Remember, I always used to say never take a step back because you're going to get hemorrhoids? That ball went in the air towards the sideline, and I remember one of their kids was fixing to catch the ball and had he caught it the clock would have ran out. But one of our kids hit him, and the ball bounced off of his chest and went out of bounds."

"As hard as we played that night and deserved to win the game that night it really came down to the coach of Opelousas Catholic's mismanagement of the clock," Criswell said. "They had four downs to run off something like 48 seconds.  Again, we didn't have a time out left and their coach called one of two time outs that stopped the clock and wasted their first three downs that made them have to punt on fourth down.  

"We never gave up and when we knew we had a chance to get the ball back we all got very excited and it actually lifted our sprits quite a bit," Criswell said. "I remember the fourth down call for an all-out rush on the punt. Tommy Savant was screaming at us to get to the punter. At the snap of the ball I remember Mike Pace and I getting a good rush off the corner, but it seemed the guys in the middle had collapsed the middle of their punt team and I remember the ball looking like it had been blocked It went straight up in the air and seemed to be hanging there for minutes."

Vidalia principal Bernie Cooley snapped the ball on the kick. He was in his third year as center.

"We all got pushed back because we were turning around to watch the ball," Cooley said. "That was the only time we had ever attempted a field goal. We practiced it all the time, but never tried it in a game until then."

The players celebrated so much that they forgot there was still a couple of seconds left on the clock, and the Vikings got a celebration penalty enforced on the kickoff. Opelousas Catholic ran it back to the Viking 42, and the game was over.

"It was like we won the Super Bowl," said former Viking player and coach Gary Paul Parnham, a lineman on that team who now coaches at Ouachita Parish High in Monroe. "We were running up and down all over the field. It was an exciting deal."

"That blocked punt and first down field goal is one of a few plays I remember from high school," Criswell said. "It was complete bedlam after Joe Ray kicked that ball through the uprights."

 Vidalia football team started off the 1985 football season ranked at the top of the Class 2A poll.

But the Vikings came out of the gate struggling, losing their first three games. 

Vidalia quickly turned things around after winning seven of their next eight games which led to the unforgettable match-up  against Opelousas Catholic.

"We moved the ball up and down the field and we just couldn't score," Faircloth said.

Richard Criswell, who had two interceptions and a fumble recovery in the contest, said Opelousas Catholic was the hardest-hitting team Vidalia had faced all year.

Raymond Cage took the opening kickoff 95 yards to the end zone and gave Vidalia an early 6-0 lead. 

"We scored on the opening kickoff and then couldn't score again until the last play of the game," Faircloth said.

The Vikings lead man on offense, Jackson, pulled a hamstring in the second quarter and was forced out of the rest of the game.

"I remember having around 97 yards rushing before getting injured in the early second quarter," Jackson said. "I thought it was going to be the last high school game I was going to play, and it was just a blessing that we had an opportunity to win the game."

Opelousas Catholic scored off of a fumble in the end zone with 10:44 left in the second quarter and made the extra point to lead the Vikings 7-6.

"It was a hair, teeth and eyeballs game," Faircloth said. "It came down to the final minutes and we're trailing 7-6, and I said 'I can't believe we're going to lose this ball game.'"

Opelousas Catholic's head coach Mickey Mills was heartbroken after the 9-7 loss.

"It's the toughest loss I've ever had in my life," Mills told the Concordia Sentinel after the game.

The Vikings would go on to face Homer in the quarterfinals, falling 20-6. Jackson was unable to play in the game.

Homer would go on to lose in the Class 2A state championship game to Springhill by a 19-14 score.





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