The great thing about football and sports in general is how quickly there can be emotional swings. It’s possible to go from severe disappointment to extreme joy in a matter of minutes — or even seconds — and vice versa.
The Haughton Buccaneers and Captain Shreve Gators experienced that Friday night at Lee Hedges Stadium.
When Captain Shreve’s Will Adcock kicked a 47-yard field goal to put the Gators ahead 24-22 with 12 seconds left, the Shreve players celebrated as you would expect.
But the officials ruled that the celebration was excessive. The Gators were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and penalized for delay of game.
That forced Shreve to kick off from its 20-yard line. Haughton’s Emile Cola took the squib kick and with a wedge of blockers returned it to the Gators 28 with 5 seconds left.
Out trotted senior Nico Broadway, who kicked a 44-yard field goal with yards to spare as time expired to give the Bucs a 24-22 victory.
“It was a perfect hold and he drilled it right down the middle with three yards to spare,” Haughton first-year head coach Jason Brotherton said.
It was the Bucs turn to celebrate, and with the game over they didn’t have to worry about it being excessive. Of course, on the other side of the field there was now bitter disappointment.
While Brotheron was thrilled with the win he had to witness his brother’s disappointment. Coy Brotherton is the offensive coordinator at Captain Shreve.
“That was the craziest game I think I’ve ever been a part of,” Jason Brotherton said. “It was unbelievable. Like I said, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The good news is that both Brothertons have at least one more game to coach. The Bucs (5-5, 2-4) and Gators (5-5, 2-4) are both headed to the Class 5A playoffs. Official pairings will be announced Sunday.
Haughton snapped a four-game losing streak.
“That was a big game for our program,” Brotherton said. “That keeps us from having a losing record and after four straight losses, I’ll be honest with you, it wouldn’t have been much fun going into playoffs with five losses in a row. It would’ve been a tough week of practice.
“That was a game that no matter what happens in the playoffs, we’ll always remember that game. Those seniors will always talk about that game tonight. That’s what’s great about high school sports. Everybody that plays has that game they remember. For it to be the last one of the regular season, that’s pretty neat. They’ll always have that.”
The game was tight the whole way. Shreve took an early lead on Lucas Grubb’s 28-yard pass to Corey Milligan. The PAT attempt, however, was no good.
A few minutes later, Haughton’s Greg Phill intercepted a Grubb pass and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown. Broadway’s first of three PATs gave the Bucs a 7-6 lead.
The Gators regained the lead on a 25-yard run by James Ivory early in the second quarter. Haughton stopped the two-point conversion attempt, which turned out to be a huge play.
Josh Lister raced 44 yards for a TD to put the Bucs back on top 14-12. Lister scored from 3 yards out with 2:10 left in the half and Haughton led 21-12 at the break.
The Gators recovered an onside kick at the start of the second half, but the Bucs stopped them. Haughton muffed the punt and Milligan recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. The PAT cut the Bucs’ lead to 21-19.
That’s the way it stood until the crazy finish.
The Bucs won despite losing the turnover battle 4-2.
Haughton passed for only 44 yards but ran for 171. Lister led the way with 120 on 19 carries. Quarterback Pryce Curry gained 43 yards.
Shreve piled up 379 total yards with Grubb passing for 222, according to Haughton’s stats.
— Russell Hedges, email@example.com