Saints are state’s best

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

For the first three quarters of Nansemond-Suffolk’s battle with Stafford for the junior midget Pop Warner football state title on Saturday at Nansemond River High School, Dominique Patterson did everything he could for the Saints, rushing for 119 yards and a touchdown and making life rough for the Titan offense.

Then, when an injury kept Patterson from doing any more, his teammates came through for him by bringing NS a title in just its third year of existence.

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Derek Wright caught a Hunt Odom pass in overtime to grab the 13-7 victory.

Midway through the second quarter, the Saints maneuvered down to the Stafford 14. Patterson, who helped the Saints to an 8-0 season (their first perfect year ever) charged through the line, bounced off a tackler, and charged down the left sideline for the score. He hurtled through the line on the extra point, and NS had a 7-0 halftime lead.

No one threatened for the first nine minutes of the second quarter. But the Titans turned the momentum and tied the score with a 70-yard strike to end things.

Again, no one threatened for a while. But with four minutes left in the contest, tragedy struck for the Saints.

A Titan carried toward the right sideline at the Stafford 30, and Patterson went to meet him. The pair collided headfirst, and both went down. Patterson landed on his head, and suffered a believed stinger in the neck. He was taken to the hospital.

Without their most prevalent weapon, the Saints still managed to push the game to overtime, as Derek Bennett ended the Titan threat with an interception at the NS 40. In keeping with Pop Warner ruled, each team starts at the 10-yard-line, and has four plays to score. Aided by a holding and illegal procedure penalty, the Saints managed to stifle the Titans on their four attempts at pay dirt.

Bennett rushed up the middle for three yards on first down, and repeated the procedure on second. On third, however, he was able to gain just one yard on an end run around the left, and the Saints had one play to go three yards.

They called timeout, and diagrammed their last attack. Odom, who hadn’t completed a pass all game, faked a handoff to Bennett and faded toward the right sideline. Wright made as if to block a linebacker, then brushed into the endzone.

With the Titan defense bearing down on him, Odom lobbed the ball over the goal line, and Wright carefully guided it into his hands. Seconds later, players, coaches, parents and the rest of the Saint family celebrated their inaugural state title. They’ll head to Winston-Salem on Nov. 20 to battle an undetermined opponent in the regional semifinals. Coach David Birdsong said he planned to bring the game ball to Patterson.

&uot;All I thought was to catch it,&uot; Wright said. &uot;I knew I was in the endzone. After I caught it, I just felt like yelling!&uot;

In other action, the Bennett’s Creek midget squad fell 16-0 to Manassas.