North Crawford football coach Brandon Munson showed the importance that a couple of seconds can make in the final game of the regular season at DeSoto last Friday.
DeSoto led North Crawford 22-20 with just 30 seconds left in the game and the Trojans had just taken possession of ball on Pirates’ 30-yard line.
With no timeouts remaining, the Trojans went to the air. First, quarterback Joe Childs found Jacob Salmon open on the right sideline for a nice gain to the 20. The clock stopped as Pirate defenders drove Salmon out of bounds.
On the next play, Childs found Jacob Baumeister open, cutting across the middle near the 10-yardline. However, Salmon was brought down inbounds and the clock was started. Childs acted quickly to spike the ball and stop the clock with only six seconds remaining.
Down by just two points, Munson didn’t hesitate. The coach sent Jerid McDaniel out to kick a field goal. The straight-toe kicker has done an excellent job with extra points for the Trojans this season and Munson felt he had the leg to kick the extra eight yards for what would be a 27-yard field goal. It was the Trojans’ first field goal attempt of the season.
The snap was good and Childs’ hold was good. McDaniel’s kick was away, but tipped by a leaping DeSoto player at the line of scrimmage. Tipped, the ball fluttered like a wounded quail as it arrived at the crossbar of the goalpost. Then, it fell across into the end zone for three points. The field goal secured what would be a one-point, 23-22, victory for the Trojans over a very tough DeSoto team.
Later, both McDaniel and Childs recalled the feeling they had when the heard the sound of the ball hitting the DeSoto lineman. McDaniel said he wasn’t sure the ball cleared the crossbar until he saw the officials signal the kick was good.
Players and fans alike seemed stunned by the turn of events. With two seconds left on the clock, the Trojans pooched a short kick off into the Pirates line and time expired as a DeSoto player was forced to fall on the ball.
It had happened—a highly motivated and athletically talented North Crawford football team had traveled to DeSoto’s intimidating home field known the ‘The Pit’ and knocked off the 5-1 Pirates. The Trojans managed to pull off their feat, despite giving up significant size to Pirates and facing a team with a massive winning tradition. Not to mention, DeSoto was playing for a share of the conference championship with a victory Friday night.
Stunned, the teams shook hands and then the rather numb Pirates walked away from their home field in silence or mumbling to themselves, as did the hometown fans. Then, the reality set in for the Trojans and they started to celebrate a big season-ending win on the road with their small, but vocal, group of fans.
While the shocking-almost-blocked-field-goal victory may have come as surprise, it really shouldn’t have. The game was a hard-fought, heavily contested affair from the start.
DeSoto struck first when Pirate quarterback Tanner Johnson connected with Jared Scoville on 27-yard touchdown pass. The Pirates added a two-point conversion. When the first quarter ended, DeSoto led North Crawford 8-0.
Then, it was the Trojans turn. North Crawford drew first blood in the second quarter when sophomore fullback Hunter Fortney ran for a touchdown from the 43-yradline on a brilliantly executed trap play, which was set-up by sending Jacob Baumeister in rapid motion to the right. When McDaniel kicked the extra point, the Trojans had come within one point at 8-7.
A short time later, it was Jacob Baumeister’s turn to score. The powerful wingback broke free for a 27-yard touchdown run and with McDaniel’s extra point North Crawford led Desoto 14-8.
However, it wasn’t halftime yet. DeSoto came back to life and drove the ball down to the North Crawford one-yard line, where Kody Larson took the ball in on fourth down for the score. That made it 14-14 and the Pirates missed the two-point conversion.
However, the first half fireworks weren’t quite over. After fielding the ensuing kickoff, the Trojans attempted a pass play, which was intercepted. On the next play, the Pirates threw into the end zone only to have the ball intercepted by the athletic Joe Childs, who out-positioned and then out jumped the DeSoto receiver. The half ended in a 14-14 tie.
Munson said later Childs’ interception in the end zone was one the key plays in the Trojan victory.
The battle resumed with a scoreless third quarter, as both teams missed opportunities and played inspired defense.
Things heated up a bit in the fourth quarter, when DeSoto quarterback Tanner Johnson, frustrated by not finding open receivers, started running the ball. The big and very athletic quarterback proved difficult for the Trojans to bring down. Mainly behind Johnson’s running, the Pirates moved the ball to inside the Trojans one-yard line, where it was first and goal.
That’s when the Trojans put up a terrific goal line stand. North Crawford stopped the Pirates three straight times at the goal line. Finally, DeSoto’s Kody Larson scored on fourth down with a one-yard run to make it 20-14. The Pirates made the two-point conversion when Johnson found a wide-open Scoville on the left side of the end zone. The score was 22-14.
The Trojans, as they had all season, refused to fold. North Crawford fought back and drove to the DeSoto 11-yard line where Childs competed a touchdown pass to, who else, Jacob Baumeister. Down by two-points 22-20, Munson elected to go for a two-point conversion, which failed.
The ensuing North Crawford kickoff with just 1:29 left to play in the game was the beginning of the end for the Pirates, but like all tragic heroes they didn’t see it coming.
The Pirates fielded North Crawford’s onside kick. However, they were unable to gain any yardage in the ensuing three plays and even fumbled and recovered the ball once. Munson used North Crawford’s timeouts to conserve time on the clock. Finally on fourth down and forced to punt with 40 seconds left in the game, the DeSoto punter dropped the snap and was tackled for a 15-yard loss.
Following the botched punt, Trojans took possession of the ball on the DeSoto 30-yard line with only 30 seconds on the clock. With a couple of passes to Salmon and Baumeister, they were on the 11-yard line. Then, McDaniel hit the field goal to take the one-point lead and seal the victory.
There were lots of happy North Crawford players, fans and coaches when it was all over, but none were any happier than first-year coach Brandon Munson.
Munson said the Trojans’ game plan was to limit their mistakes and control the ball. He noted the team had 16 first downs in the game and recovered a DeSoto fumble.
“It was back and forth all game,” Munson said later. “We knew it was pretty tall order for us to match up with a fairly athletic team with good size.”
The North Crawford coach praised the team for their commitment, which led to a 4-2 conference record and a 5-3 overall record.
“We set out at the beginning of the year to qualify for the playoffs and compete for the conference championship and we did both,” Munson said. He pointed out that if it weren’t for the two-point loss to Ithaca in the early season, the Trojans would be conference champions.
North Crawford qualified for the WIAA Division 7 playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Trojans, seeded eighth, will travel to Potosi this Friday at 7 p.m. to face the Chieftains, seeded first, in a first round game.