By Austin Bishop
The Choctaw Plaindealer
JACKSON — No matter how sophisticated your offense is, sometimes it’s best to just draw up a play in the dirt.
That’s not exactly how one of the biggest plays in French Camp Academy’s 27-6 MHSAA Class 1A State Championship Game win over Smithville went down on Friday morning, but it was certainly an impromptu creation.
With the game tied at 0-0 late in the first quarter and French Camp in horrible field position and steadily losing ground, FCA quarterback Jesse Hosket found senior wide out Hagan Box wide open behind the Smithville defense for a 40-yard pass play that moved the ball from the Panthers own 10-yard line to midfield. Three plays later Michael Erving would run the ball in from 27 yards out for the first touchdown of the game.
“That really was a big play,” said FCA head coach Nathan Wright. “We had a couple possessions in a row where we were backed up deep and they (Smithville) just kept shortening and shortening the field and I thought ‘oh my goodness.’ That (play) really got the field position that we wanted and we were able to capitalize on it.”
Just a possession earlier the Panthers found themselves having to punt the ball away from their own 6-yard line, and then faced a second-and-12 from their own 7, before a three-yard run by Hosket and the long pass to Box flipped the field.
Hosket’s biggest dilemma on the play was finding his disappearing receiver.
“We ran the wrong route and I was looking for him,” the 6-foot-5, 210-pound quarterback said. “I looked back there and he was behind everybody so I just lofted it up to him.”
“I saw he (the defender) game me a good cushion and when I came off the ball he wasn’t really paying attention to me so I just took off,” Box said. “I turned him around a little bit, but it ended up working pretty good.”
While Wright likes his team to follow the game plan, he also depends upon his veteran players to improvise when needed.
“We had to adjust a little bit,” Wright said. “That wasn’t the way we drew it up, but he adjusted to the coverage and got behind him a little bit. Of course Jesse couldn’t grip the ball real well (due to a steady rain), so he had to put a little touch on it. He kind of darted it over the top and into his hands.”
After the play gave the Panthers the ball at midfield, Hosket swung a pass out to Erving for a 21-yard gain and then two plays later Erving bolted into the end zone for the first score of the contest.