Vidor’s run-heavy offense isn’t built to play from behind, but the Pirates pulled off a comeback for the ages on Friday night to capture the District 10-4A-I crown.
Once trailing Lumberton by 20 points early in the third quarter and struggling to find any consistent offense, Vidor figured things out just in time, storming back for a 28-27 win over the Raiders at Pirates Stadium.
Three straight touchdowns in a span of 15 minutes of game action catapulted Vidor to victory. Layne Wilhelm’s 33-yard sprint up the middle gave the Pirates their first lead of the game with 5:12 left to play.
Despite a 356-yard passing performance from quarterback Lucas Powell, Lumberton’s offense couldn’t convert in the game’s most crucial moments. Powell was picked off on Lumberton’s last possession, and the celebration was on for Vidor after a few kneel downs.
“When something bad happens, you can lay down or you can keep fighting,” Vidor coach Jeff Mathews said. “How awesome was that? Two great teams going at it, and we never quit.”
Lumberton’s offense looked unstoppable in the first half as the Raiders built a double-digit lead.
Powell drove Lumberton right down the field on a drive highlighted by a 37-yard touchdown pass to Brady Fuselier. Less than four minutes into the game, Lumberton led 7-0.
After the teams traded punts on the next few drives, Vidor tied things up with a timely run from quarterback Eli Simmons. The Pirates’ signal caller took a 34-yard run down the sideline for a touchdown on a 3rd-and-14 play, and Vidor was back even.
From there, Vidor made costly mistakes on both sides of the ball. The Pirates secondary couldn’t stop Powell, who found Fuselier again for a 30-yard touchdown pass.
Vidor then wasted a long kickoff return by missing a 30-yard field goal, giving the ball back to Lumberton’s potent offense.
Powell’s third touchdown of the half went for 43 yards as Lumberton had all the momentum. The senior quarterback threw for 211 yards before the halftime break.
Vidor had a chance to cut the deficit down on the final drive of the half, but a tough call went against the Pirates.
With the ball at the six-yard line, Vidor tried a run play that appeared to go out of bounds with time still on the clock. Instead, the officials ruled that time had run out, sending the game to halftime with Lumberton still leading 20-7.
Early in the third quarter, it was more of the same for Lumberton. Vidor went three-and-out on offense, then Powell hit Fuselier again for an 82-yard touchdown on the Raiders next drive.
With nine minutes left in the third quarter, Lumberton led 27-7.
That’s when something changed for Vidor. Simmons led a quick drive down the field and capped it himself with a one-yard touchdown sneak. Then Wilhelm ran in his first score of the game early in the fourth quarter to make it 27-21.
Meanwhile, Lumberton’s offense was struggling to find the big plays from the first half. A few drops by receivers and constant pressure from Vidor lineman Jordan Smith made things much more difficult for the Raiders.
“We got beat for some big ones early, but we made some great adjustments at halftime and never panicked,” Mathews said.
Looking for a go-ahead score, Vidor got the ball back with eight minutes remaining. Not long after, Wilhelm’s 33-yard run put the Pirates on top for good.
Vidor was playing with a shorthanded backfield, missing Westin Sepulvado with a broken bone. Jason Watson also went down during the game, making Wilhelm one of Vidor’s few remaining ball carriers with any experience.
“He never complained and busted one open when we needed him to,” Mathews said of Wilhelm.
Vidor will get the No. 1 seed out of the district, while Lumberton drops to third place behind No. 2 Little Cypress Mauiceville, who beat Huffman-Hargrave on Friday night.
It’s the Pirates first district title since they shared one in 2016.
“Man, this one feels good,” Mathews said with a huge smile plastered across his face. “We’re the No. 1 baby, can’t beat that.”
Written by Matt Faye