By JOEL COLEMAN
CALHOUN CITY – It happened again.
Two years after an undefeated East Webster team had its playoff run stopped in Calhoun City, the Wildcats gave the Wolverines a little dose of deja vu Friday night.
Calhoun City's Tray Pratt intercepted a pass from East Webster's Miguel Graham with 55 seconds left to halt the Wolverines' potential game-winning drive as the Wildcats hung on for a 23-21 win in third round Class 2A playoff action.
"It hurts and it hurts bad," said East Webster's Ledrick Patterson. "We started from day one and had a goal to get to Jackson and win. We wanted to win our district, win the north half, and win the state championship. We got the district, but tonight, we just came up a little short."
Ironically, it was Patterson, normally the Wolverines quarterback, who was the intended receiver on Graham's intercepted pass, a throw that was picked just 22 yards from East Webster's end zone.
Down two points after Calhoun City's Raheem Roberson kicked an 18-yard go-ahead field goal earlier in the fourth quarter, Graham lined up as East Webster's signal caller on the final drive that began on the Wolverines 24-yard line.
"I told coach to go to the spread," said Patterson. "I told (Graham) to get me the ball. He trusted me and I trusted Miguel. At the end, we just had a misread."
East Webster head coach Jimmy Carden, who has used primarily Patterson to guide the Wolverines' run-first offensive attack all season long, defended his decision to shake things up with East Webster needing yardage in a hurry.
"We were trying to move the ball down the field," said Carden. "It was something nobody has seen all year. We practice it all the time but we haven't had to do it. It was working fine until we made a bad throw."
Even with the turnover, Carden didn't put the blame on Graham.
"He hadn't done that all year long," said Carden. "Here in ballgame number 14 in a pressure-packed situation, you ask a kid to come in and take you down the field so that's hard on him. It wasn't his fault. It was just something that we hadn't practiced live enough."
East Webster may not have even been in a close-game situation if not for a penalty called just before halftime.
With the Wolverines already leading 13-7, Patterson hit Graham for what would have been a 47-yard touchdown pass.
Officials threw flags for East Webster having illegal receivers downfield, leaving the Wolverines with just a one-score lead at the intermission.
"When (Calhoun City) got that lucky break, I believe (momentum) switched going into half," said Patterson. "We would have been up 21-7, but everybody went in and put their heads down."
While the first half ended on a sour note, East Webster dominated the first two quarters, particularly the opening period.
Calhoun City recovered a Wolverines fumble on the game's opening possession, setting the Wildcats up with a first-and-goal situation.
East Webster's Josh Gladney responded by hauling in an interception on Calhoun City's possession, returning it all the way to the Wildcats' 21.
Following a trio of runs from Patterson, Wolverines fullback Timakis Bell punched in a short-yardage run for a 7-0 lead.
The Wolverines extended their advantage on their next possession when Patterson found Lilton Vance on a 13-yard play-action pass on fourth down.
Bell missed the ensuing extra point, but East Webster led 13-0.
Calhoun City finally broke onto the scoreboard in the second quarter when quarterback J.R. Jennings hit Demarius Howard for a 29-yard touchdown.
The Wildcats took the lead on the opening possession of the second half, driving 60 yards on eight plays and going up 14-13 after Avery Hill's 2-yard run.
The Calhoun City lead was short-lived however as East Webster responded with a scoring drive, capped on a 3-yard pass from Patterson to Gladney, putting the Wolverines back on top 21-14 following the two-point conversion.
Calhoun City found the end zone again late in the third quarter as Tavion Primer caught a 9-yard pass from Jennings, but Roberson missed the extra point attempt.
Rather than being the goat, Roberson turned into the hero, capping the scoring with his game-winning field goal moment's before the Calhoun City defense found the means to halt Patterson, Graham, and the Wolverines.
"We felt comfortable in that package," said Patterson. "It just came up short for us."
Calhoun City (14-0) advances to next week's Class 2A North championship game, hosting West Bolivar.
East Webster's season ends at 13-1.
"You want to keep going," said Carden. "But the kids had a great season. They did everything they could. Calhoun City just had a great game. You have to play the best to be the best and I wish them all the luck in the world."