On fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line with Caldwell County trailing Murray 41-34 in overtime, CCHS senior Baron Wells ran the ball toward the right pylon and dove for the end zone.
The pylon tipped over, making the Caldwell faithful believe he had scored, but the officials gathered and ruled that Wells went out of bounds just short ending the contest between the Class 2A District 1 rivals.
For Caldwell County (2-3 overall, 1-2 in District 1), this was the last district game of the season. For Murray (4-2, 1-0), it was their first.
The game was a seesaw battle throughout, despite the promising start by Caldwell County.
On the first play from scrimmage, senior quarterback Russ Beshear found Wells on a 65-yard pass for a touchdown with 11:39 left in the first quarter. Junior Blake Vivrette’s kick gave CCHS an early 7-0 lead.
Murray knotted the score late in the period when senior Brendan Dahncke ran 40 yards for a touchdown with 2:04 remaining. Junior Caden Cain’s kick tied the score at 7-7.
On Caldwell County’s second play following the ensuing kickoff, Beshear found Wells again on a 59-yard TD pass with 1:33 left in the quarter. Vivrette’s kick made the score 14-7.
In the second quarter, Murray struck quickly, as junior quarterback Rowdy Sokolowski found junior Andrew Orr on a 50-yard scoring play just 13 seconds into the second period. Cain’s kick tied the score at 14-14.
Caldwell took the lead again when Beshear hit senior Tripp Branch on a 25-yard touchdown pass with 10:09 left in the half. Vivrette’s kick gave CCHS a 21-14 lead.
After stopping a Murray drive, Caldwell County began a drive in earnest, but Beshear’s arm was hit as he tried to pass the ball, and the wounded duck fell into Dahncke’s hands, setting MHS up at the Caldwell County 4.
Two plays later, Sokolowski kept the ball and took it into the end zone with 4:32 left in the half. Cain’s kick again tied the score at 21-21, where it would stay for the remainder of the half.
The second half featured a defensive showdown between the two Tiger teams. Murray scored quickly, scoring on its third play from scrimmage when Sokolowski hit Cain for a 57-yard score with 9:56 left in the third period. Cain’s kick put Murray ahead for the first time, 28-21.
CCHS marched down the field on its ensuing drive, scoring when Beshear kept the ball and ran 12 yards into the end zone with 7:04 left in the quarter. Vivrettte’s kick tied the game at 28-28.
Neither team scored over the next 13 minutes until Vivrette lined up a 22-yard field goal to give Caldwell County a 31-28 lead with 6:06 left in regulation.
With time winding down, Murray began a scoring drive from its 34-yard line and ran 10 plays, capped with a four-yard TD run by Sokolowski with 1:11 left. Cain’s kick went under the crossbar, but MHS had a 34-31 lead. That missed extra point would prove to be important.
With five seconds left in regulation, Caldwell County called its final timeout of regulation. The team had set up for Vivrette to attempt a 52-yard field goal, but after the timeout, the team lined up for a play.
Beshear pitched the ball to senior Tate VanHooser, who flung the ball down the field. Branch jumped up and fended off two defenders to come down with the ball at the Murray 13 as time apparently ran out.
However, Murray was flagged for roughing the passer, putting the ball at the MSH 7 and allowing CCHS one more play.
Vivrette booted a 23-yard field goal to tie the game at 34-34 and sent it into overtime.
Caldwell County won the coin toss and elected to let Murray take the first drive. On third down, Sokolowski called his own number again and ran three yards for a touchdown. Cain’s kick gave MHS a 41-34 lead.
On Caldwell County’s turn, Beshear ran three yards on the first play, senior Travion Sanders ran for five more to the 2-yard line, then took the ball again, punching ahead for a one-yard gain. The ball came loose, but senior John Paredes came out from under the pileup with the ball on the 1.
CCHS called a timeout to set up the final play. Beshear pitched the ball to Wells, who ran for the corner and dove for the pylon. The pylon fell, but officials ruled he went out of bounds, ending the game.
“We had our backs against the ball there in the fourth quarter,” said CCHS head coach Will Barnes. “I’m proud of our kids for finding a way to get that thing into overtime. We just came up one yard short.
“Nobody was able to get a couple-possession lead. We kicked a field goal on fourth-and-1 after we went for it a couple of plays before. It’s probably my fault for not going for that again.”
Barnes said he told his team that they shouldn’t judge Murray based on its previous results.
“They’re a good football team,” he said. “When two good football teams play, that’s what happens. Looking back to the Mayfield game (CCHS lost 21-20 in Mayfield), two good football teams played and we came up just a few plays short on both of those.”
Caldwell County will visit Madisonville-North Hopkins (1-3) for a 7 p.m. game on Friday. The Maroons fell to Calloway County Friday night 20-10.