Steele’s last-second field goal lifts Saints

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Times-Journal News Editor

Friday night at Memorial Stadium, pandemonium reigned as players and coaches raced around the field looking for someone to hug.

Seconds earlier, Selma High senior kicker Donald Steele sent a 22-yard rainbow over the crossbar and lifted the Saints to their third straight win, a 23-21 thriller over Robert E. Lee.

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“I was nervous when I first went out there. The game was on my hands,” Steele said. “Once I kicked it way high in the air, I didn’t want anybody to block so once I got it in the air I knew it was going to go through.”

Steele’s kick capped a dramatic drive that saw the Saints march 55 yards in three minutes to set up the game-winning kick.

The 22-yard try was not a gimme, considering the Saints’ trouble with the kicking game this year. But coach Woodrow Lowe Jr. had faith in his senior.

“We hadn’t been able to kick field goals all year but we wanted to put it on Donald Steele. It was homecoming, he is a senior. He was going to kick it or he was going to miss it,” Lowe said. “I told him just push it in, don’t try to kill it.”

With the win, Lowe’s Saints move about the .500 for the first time. The win gives the Saints a 3-2 record and improves their position for the stretch run to the playoffs.

“It just goes back to everything we’ve been telling these kids for a long time – just keep clawing, keep grinding,” Lowe said.

The Saints did most of their damage in the air. With Quin Pernell’s move to wideout, Cajun Pritchett came in and played outstanding at quarterback for the Saints. Pritchett tossed all three of the Saints’ touchdown passes to senior wideout Robert Childers.

“Quin is a good quarterback, Cajun is a good quarterback. But we had some injuries at receiver so you move (Quin) to receiver and you have two good athletes on the field at the same time,” Lowe said. “(Childers) is another senior that stepped up. He’s come a long way.”

Pritchett ended the game 11-of-19 for 200 yards and three scores.

Childers’ touchdown catches were of 22, 5 and 14 yards. He finished with four catches for 61 yards. Pernell had five for 117 yards.

Childers credited his night to working closely with his position coach and some extra-curricular work he and some local stars from other teams have been doing.

“Coach helped me work on my moves in practice and I did some of that,” Childers said. “I come out here Sunday’s to Bloch Park with my boy T’Chelpio (Woods) from CCA and my boy Mike Johnson from Dallas County. We’re out here a lot to get better.”

Pritchett orchestrated the final drive with both his arm and his feet. The biggest plays came through the air.

On second and 10 at the Saints 40, a defender nailed Pritchett as he threw. But an alert Pernell came back to the ball and made a great catch at the Robert E. Lee 31.

Then, on third and 13 at the 36 with 36 seconds left, Pritchett hit Alan Williams who got out of bounds at the 16-yard line.

“I was confident the whole time,” Pritchett said.

On first down, Pritchett ran to the 10 where he was taken down by the facemask. After some confusion and a long conference by the refs, the ball was placed at the 4 with 28.5 seconds left.

After a Lee timeout with 20.5 seconds left Mike Miller, who finished with 130 yards on 21 carries, ran for no gain to the outside.

Selma called timeout, but was flagged for delay of game coming out of the break. Pritchett dropped back to pass, found some daylight up the middle and ran back to the five where Selma called timeout and set up the final kick.

“Never give up and work hard, work hard, work hard,” Steele said. “We’re going to try and rock this thing out. It’s the most exciting game of my life. It’s just like a baseball game, hitting a grand slam in the ninth.”

Selma drew first blood as Pritchett led the team down field in the first quarter and hooked up with Childers on the first of three touchdown passes.

“It was just a fact that I knew I had a go-to guy and Robert was the man who stepped it up,” Pritchett said.

Selma led 6-0 after a quarter but the Generals, looking for their first win, weren’t about to back down.

With some shifty running from Idarius Bennett and effective passing from Jerome Durry, the General marched down the field and took the lead, 7-6.

After Selma went three and out, the Generals got some more good field position and marched down to score on a lob pass to the back of the end zone.

The extra point made it 14-6.

Selma responded with a big drive.

The big play in the drive came when Selma lined up on their own 47, and Pritchett dropped to pass.

His lob to Pernell was short, but Pernell came back to the ball, took an interception away from the defender and made the catch on the right sideline.

He juked and cut his way across the field and was dragged out of bounds at the 20.

Michael Miller got tackled by his facemask and the penalty moved the Saints to the 6-yard line.

Pritchett carried to the 2, but a penalty moved Selma back.

On third and goal at the 8, Miller ran to the 5-yard line.

On fourth down, Pritchett lobbed a touch pass to Childers in the back of the end zone for six.

“First off I was a little shaky, coach called me to build my confidence up,” Pritchett said. “I just brought it together and made a good play.”

The two-point conversion failed and the teams went to the break at 14-12.

They stayed at that score until the fourth quarter when the field position game paid off big for the Saints.

Pernell punted the Generals down to their own 2-yard line.

The defense held them there and Selma got the ball back at their own 35.

With Miller dominating on the ground with over 100 yards in the second half, Selma quickly got inside the red zone.

On third down, Pritchett hit Childers over the middle on a 14-yard TD toss.

Pritchett broke a tackle and hit Williams for the two-point conversion and the 20-14 lead.

Robert E. Lee marched back down the field, but a power loss in the press box delayed the game for a few minutes.

Afterwards a Robert E. Lee coach complained loudly that his team that Selma gained a few precious seconds when the clock went out while the ball was in play.

The Generals took the lead but they left Selma too much time left on the clock and the Saints took advantage.

Selma plays at home again next week.

Coach Lowe said he is unsure of the team’s current playoff prospects but a win against Jeff Davis would lock up a postseason berth.

“We’ve got Jeff Davis next week, if we beat them, we’ll probably be in,” Lowe said.