Originally, I was slated to cover the Standard-Times Game of the Week again last week, but due to a freelance photographer having to drop out of the lineup, I was put on the Central game as they played Abilene Cooper. This game had the potential for being extremely important for the Bobcats because it had playoff implications attached. Win and they're in. Lose, and they would have one more chance to get into the post-season by beating Midland Lee the following week. However, Midland Lee is one of the top teams in District 2-5A so Central needed to win against Cooper.
Defense shined for most of the first half with Central leading at the half 10-7. This is when I take my usual time to edit through the first half photos and transmit back to the office so we can get the color pages of the Blitz sections rolling. (By the way, did anyone notice that the flag in the above photo is folded in such a way that it reads "Oats" instead of "Cats"? Ha!) It usually takes me late into the third quarter to finish up and get back to the field and this is when the game takes a turn for the thrilling.
As I'm walking out of the field house I look up at the scoreboard and see that Central has scored another touchdown while I was away. The score was now 17-7. But I also notice that the Cooper fans are going crazy on their side of the field as Cooper's Fred Lawrence speeds down the sideline and into the end zone for a 98-yard touchdown on the ensuing kickoff cutting the Central lead to just three points. We now had a game on our hands.
More strong defense dominated most of the fourth quarter until Cooper scored again with just over four minutes left in the game making the score 21-17. This is when the game takes a controversial turn. After the following kickoff, Central quarterback Mickey Scott threw an interception with 4:17 remaining in the game. Fifteen seconds later, the Central defense forced a Cooper fumble to give the offense another chance at winning the game. Central ate up most of the time on the clock and found themselves in a fourth down situation. Central converted the fourth down when Nick Barron wrestled the ball
away from a Cooper defender to give the Bobcats first-and-goal from the 8-yard-line
with less than a minute to play.
Okay, so Central then found themselves in yet another fourth-and-goal situation still on the 8-yard line. Central quarterback Mickey Scott rolls right and floats a pass to Jordan Charles who catches the ball and runs over the pylon on the front edge of the end zone. Happiness and general merriment ensues and all is right with the world for Central fans. But wait, the sideline referee has something else to say. Instead of signaling a touchdown, he waives off the catch citing that the ball was caught out of bounds.
Take a look at the above series of photos. They're not the best photos I've ever taken but they're all I've got of this particular situation. Note that Jordan Charles' left foot is obviously down and in-bounds and he has control of the football. The very next frame should have shown whether or not Charles hit the pylon breaking the plane of the end zone with the ball or stepping out of bounds before the end zone, but as you can see, the game official is blocking my shot. We will never know if Charles was in or if he was out. What we do know is that the referee called the catch out of bounds and the ball went back to Cooper with 18 seconds left on the clock. Central lost 21-17 thinking they would now have to beat an even tougher competitor, Midland Lee, in the regular season finale the following week to get a bid to the playoffs. It's a shame that I had to wait until almost the end of the regular season to get to cover an exciting game.