October 7, 2012 1:13:09 AM
"The Catch" is one of the most memorable plays in NFL history.
Dwight Clark's leaping, fingertip grab of a Joe Montana pass helped send the San Francisco 49ers past the Dallas Cowboys 28-27 in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 10, 1982. San Francisco went on to beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI for the first of four titles in the 1980s.
The touchdown magic Cade Lott and Parker Turner worked Friday night didn't come with their team trailing or in the final minute, but the Heritage Academy football team hopes it can provide a spark similar to the one that "The Catch" gave the 49ers.
Miller Puckett ran for two scores and caught a pass from Lott for a third touchdown, and Lott and Turner combined on an "Oh no ... oh yes" moment to lift Heritage Academy to a 42-0 victory against Oak Hill Academy in a Mississippi Association of Independent Schools game on Homecoming in Columbus.
The victory was the sixth in a row in the series for Heritage Academy dating back to 2006.
"That is the kind of play that when you start making those runs in those conference games, that is the kind of play you have to have to get that program win we're talking about," Heritage Academy coach Barrett Donahoe said of Lott's touchdown pass to Turner. "We saw that today. That great play, that great extension of the play, that great placement of the ball, that great catch by Parker Turner and awareness of where is on the field. That was fantastic. That was as good as it can be."
Leading 21-0, a 33-yard punt return by Parker Dunaway and an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Raiders gave the Patriots a first down at the Oak Hill 12-yard line. The Raiders flushed Lott from the pocket on first down and pushed him right toward the sidelines. The senior quarterback eluded three defenders before he finally ran out of room and threw the ball. Fortunately, he didn't throw it blindly.
"I was thinking about just tucking and running and I saw Parker in the back of the end zone and I threw it up and gave him a chance and he made a heck of a catch," Lott said. "I was about to go out of bounds and past the line of scrimmage. I looked up and found him in the back of the end zone and he made a great catch."
Turner, like all good receivers, came back to the football when he saw his quarterback in trouble. Even though it's a little early for basketball season, the senior's leaping ability appeared to be in midseason form.
Turner also showed footwork appropriate for Homecoming festivities. After jumping as high as he could, sticking his left hand out and snagging the football, and bringing it into his shoulder, he got both tiptoes inbounds with maybe one centimeter to spare.
"It was originally a wheel route to Hudson Bean," Turner said. "They had me covered up and Hudson was covered, and Cade did a heck of job scrambling and avoiding three tackles. I have always been taught to find green grass. When all else fails, try to get open and find green grass. That's what I did. He tossed it up and I made a catch and played ball."
Lott, who also is a senior, said he has seen a highlight of Montana's famous pass to Clark. According to reports from the game, Montana's pass was intended for wide receiver Freddie Solomon, who like Turner and Bean, was covered. Some thought Montana was throwing the ball out of bounds to give the 49ers, who trailed 27-21 with less than a minute to play, a chance to score on fourth down. Three Dallas Cowboys rushers forced Montana to make a choice that Clark snatched and turned into a victory.
For Donahoe, Lott's throw and Turner's catch were just as memorable, especially after being so close to stealing a victory last week against Magnolia Heights.
"I was saying, 'Run, run, run ... Oh God, what ... that is great,' " Donahoe said. "It was awesome. It was no, no, no, yes, yes, yes. It was a wonderful throw and a wonderful catch."
Puckett seven carries, 61 yards) did the damage on the ground, racing 4 and 24 yards for touchdowns. He also took a screen pass from Lott and raced 51 yards for another score.
Puckett, a senior, said Lott has shown an ability to improvise in practice. He said Lott does a great job of seeing the field and finding receivers. Still, Puckett wasn't sure if Lott was going to be able to pull this one off.
"I came across and get the defensive end and blocked him," Puckett said. "I turned around and saw him evade those three guys and he was right on the edge of the sidelines and Parker made a heck of a catch.
"When he threw it, I thought he was just throwing it out of the back of the end zone. But I guess he had a method to his madness."
Oak Hill Academy (3-5) earned its only first down on a pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter. The Raiders, who have lost three in a row, finished with -17 yards offense. Fifteen of their 22 running plays went for negative yards. The Raiders lost two of six fumbles.
Oak Hill Academy has a bye next week. It has games remaining against Kirk Academy and Immanuel Christian. The last game is the finale in Class AA, District 2. Its lone district victory is against Winston Academy. The top four teams from the six-team district will advance to the playoffs.
The victory helped Heritage Academy (3-5) erase the sting of a 14-13 loss to Magnolia Heights last week in Senatobia. That game could have helped the Patriots (1-2 MAIS Class AAA, District 1, Division II) solidify a hold on a playoff spot. Now Heritage Academy, which has a bye next week, will have to beat Washington School and Pillow Academy and get some help to forge a three-way tie with Washington School and Magnolia Heights to determine which two teams will advance to the playoffs.
Thoughts about the Washington School game Oct. 19 in Columbus weren't too far from the minds of the Patriots after their latest victory.
"We have to beat Washington," Lott said. "We have to get a mind-set to go in there 100 percent confident and make sure we win."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.