October 24, 2010 12:40:00 AM
STEENS -- Joel Meek kicked a 26-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining to give the Immanuel Christian football team a 37-34 victory against Central Holmes in a Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class A, District 3 game.
The field goal was the first this season for Meek, a sophomore, who also is a soccer player.
The victory helped Immanuel (5-5) qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2006, when it lost to Tri-County 20-16 in the Christian Football Association playoffs. The win allowed the Rams to secure second place behind Winona Christian in the four-team district that also includes Hebron Christian.
"I am 100 percent confident in Joel Meek," Immanuel Christian coach Shawn Gates said. "He is an outstanding field goal kicker and kickoff guy. I believed in him 100
The field goal culminated a fourth quarter that included 30 of the game''s 71 points in the final 2 minutes, 42 seconds.
Gates said Meek was making field goals from 35 yards from both hashmarks in warmups with no problem. He said Meek also made his kicks all week in practice, which gave everyone confidence he could do it with the game -- and a playoff berth -- on the line.
Gates said he didn''t know if there was any wind to support the kick. He was just ready for Meek to make the kick to seal the win.
"It was crazy. Everybody was excited," Gates said. "I got tackled by two coaches, and the players were thrilled and excited. Some of them were about to cry because (making playoffs in MAIS) is something Immanuel has never done. It was a really good thing. They all tackled Joel. It was great."
The last stanza opened with Central Holmes ahead 21-20 before Immanuel Christian''s Michael Tate scored from 4 yards. Tate rushed 18 times for 220 yards to lead the Rams.
Central Holmes grabbed a 28-26 lead on a 57-yard touchdown pass. Immanuel Christian took over at its 30-yard line on the ensuing kickoff after it was accidentally touched and Wesley Lake recovered the ball.
Then Tate went the 70 yards for the score and ran in the two-point conversion to put Immanuel Christian ahead 34-28 with 2:04 to play.
After an onside kick, Central Holmes recovered at the Immanuel Christian 49. On third-and-10, Central Holmes completed a touchdown pass to knot the score at 34.
After carries by Tate and Norris Harris took the football to the Central Holmes 9, Meek hit the 26-yard game-winner.
A last-second attempt by Central Holmes failed when the visitors fumbled and James Wriley fell on the ball.
Each team traded scoring in the first half after Central Holmes opened with a 7-yard touchdown run and Immanuel Christian''s Ross Moore threw a 59-yard scoring pass to Tate, all in the first quarter.
Harris scored on a 5-yard run for Immanuel Christian in the second quarter, and Central Holmes followed with a 33-yard scoring dash.
Central Holmes opened the third quarter with a trick play, faking a field goal attempt to throw a 2-yard scoring pass. Harris ended the first-half scoring for the Rams with a 3-yard touchdown run.
The five wins this season is the most the team has had since 2003, when Gary White led the team to a 7-3 finish. That team lost to Open Door 48-35 in the CFA playoffs.
The Rams, who started 0-3 this season, haven''t won a playoff game since they beat Faith 40-14 on Nov. 6, 1998, in the opening round of the Southeastern Christian Conference playoffs. They lost in their next game to Victory Christian 42-18 to finish 7-4.
"Going to the playoffs is wonderful for us," Gates said. "The kids are really happy. It is really exciting."
Immanuel Christian will play at New Site on Friday in its regular-season finale.
After Washington School opened the scoring on a first-quarter field goal, Heritage jumped ahead to a 10-3 halftime lead on Stance Henderson''s 25-yard field goal and a 15-yard scoring pass to Tyler Marchak. Henderson kicked the PAT.
In the third quarter, Heritage pulled ahead when Lott threw 71 yards to Parker Dunaway for one score and rushed 34 yards for another. Henderson added a 29-yard scoring run for the Patriots in the fourth quarter.
"The defense played lights out all night long," Heritage Academy coach Brad Butler said. "I think this might have knocked Washington School out of the playoffs."
Heritage (4-6) ends the season next week at home against Clarksdale Lee.
n Horn Lake 3, Columbus 0: At Horn Lake, turnovers and penalties stifled the Falcon''s offense in a Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A, Region 1 contest.
"We had two touchdowns called back," said first-year Columbus head coach Tony Stanford. "We got down close and stopped two drives on fumbles and we turned it over on another. ... When you don''t have the execution, sometimes it hurts."
Running back Damian Baker was the offensive spark for the Falcons (3-6 overall, 1-4 region), rushing 20 times for 145 yards. A 70-yard touchdown run by Baker was erased because of a clipping call.
In the game''s only points, Horn Lake''s Joseph Hall booted a 24-yard field goal with 9 seconds remaining in the game.
Columbus closes out the regular season Friday at home against Olive Branch.
"We''ll have the home-playoff advantage," said Victory Christian coach Chris Hamm, whose team improved to 7-0 and won its 29th game in a row. "But we won''t know until Monday who our opponent will be."
Victory Christian, the two-time defending Christian Football Association champions, likely will face New Life at 7 p.m. Friday in the first round. The title game will be the following week at Tuscaloosa Christian.
Marcus Sims scored the first two touchdowns for the Eagles on a 10-yard run in the first quarter and on a 30-yard catch from Tyler Jones in the second quarter.
Ellis scored his first touchdown -- a 65-yard run -- in the second quarter. He added rushing scores of 18 and 31 yards to give Victory Christian a 36-16 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Sims threw a 53-yard scoring toss to Ellis. Ben Williams rushed 41 yards for another touchdown, and Ellis finished with a 37-yard touchdown run.