The game deserved its end.
A back-and-forth between Indian Land and Catawba Ridge that seemed to hang on with every second-half possession required two more sets of downs to determine a winner. The play that forced the extra session was even loaded with drama.
The Catawba Ridge defense got the much-needed save, quelling a fourth attempt and an Indian Land goal on the 1-yard line in overtime and surviving a biting 16-13 result at The Pit on Friday night.
“It was emotional, man,” Catawba Ridge coach Zac Lendyak said after the game. “When your guys work as hard as they do, you want to see them succeed. There are a lot of emotions in football. I couldn’t be more proud of these guys.
Catawba Ridge (5-4, 2-2 Region 3-4A) drew first blood, capitalizing on short ground that a blocked punt gave the Copperheads. Jairus Frank hit a 4-yard touchdown pass from Nate Thomas, capping a 22-yard rush and putting Catawba Ridge, 7-0, ahead at 7:55 of the first period.
Indian Land (4-3, 0-3) drew on a 69-yard touchdown from Blake Goode to Drew Hardin on the left side of the field at 1:10.
The Warriors extended their lead near halftime, as Goode connected with Jeremiah Strickland from 10 yards to put Indian Land in the lead, 13-7. Indian Land moved into a position to further inflate the margin, recovering the ensuing short kick and penetrating inside the Copperhead 2-yard line. Catawba Ridge rose on defense, however, fending off the Warriors in back-to-back games just before the horn.
“At halftime we made it clear to them how important it was and that we had the opportunity to come out and put something on the board,” said Lendyak.
The Copperheads closed the lead in the half three minutes into the third quarter with a 26-yard Kozel field goal. The Catawba Ridge defense then created an opportunity on the drive that followed, forcing a fumble over Indian lands and recovering at Warrior 40. Kozel cracked the pipes on another 26-yard attempt to complete the drive, tying the score. at 13 as the third quarter neared its end.
Jacobie Henderson intercepted an interception in Indian Land’s last practice of the third quarter, putting the Copperheads at Indian Land 44. That practice stalled, however, forcing a punt from Catawba Ridge. The Copperheads took advantage again after a three-and-out, recovering a fumble on a punt at Warrior 41. The Copperheads were unable to advance any further, however, and returned to Indian Land.
Catawba Ridge then got the ball in his 16th after a Warrior punt with 2:28 left in settlement. The Copperheads methodically headed for the Warrior 5, bracing for a 22-yard field goal attempt that would have won the game in regulation. Officials chatted after the kick, eventually deciding the try was no good and ending the regulations.
“From my perspective, it looked like it was inside,” Lendyak said. “They said he went straight over the goal post and called him on the left. We really thought we were in a good position to launch this basket. We just didn’t get the call.
The call didn’t seem to confuse Kozel.
“After the failure he said, ‘Coach, I thought it was good, I’m sorry. “I said, ‘You’re going to have another chance,’ and of course he did,” Lendyak said.
Kozel connected on a 31-yard attempt to provide Catawba Ridge with the score in overtime.
The Warrior’s last training culminated in the Short Range Trial. Indian Land rounded the right side, disappearing into a bunch of defenders. After a delay while players were removed from the stack, officials signaled the try was short, ending play and starting a Copperhead celebration.
“We have been working on this training all week,” Lendyak said. “They have big boys. Our guys answered the call and made this stop. I don’t know how close it was or anything, but man, we were excited when they said it wasn’t a touchdown.
“I love this team and I love these children. It just hurt for them, ”Indian Land coach Adam Hastings said after the game. “They work so hard. We don’t have a lot of players. They try to do so much for each other. I’m so proud of them, and I hate it for them.
Goode finished 17 for 30 on the night for the Warriors, totaling 230 yards and two scores. Hardin had receptions for 122 yards and one scoring, with Strickland hitting three throws for 47 yards and the other touchdown. Dumkele Idehen and Myles Stinson combined to rush nearly 100 yards for the Warriors.
Thomas completed 16 of his 24 attempts, throwing for 131 yards in place of Jadyn Davis. Frank grabbed the lone touchdown, Henderson and Lane Boutwell teaming up for nine catches and 85 yards.
Catawba Ridge has a bye next week. Indian Land will host Lancaster in a game that will determine the region’s 3-4A playoff final place. This match is scheduled to start at 7:30 a.m.
This story was originally published 23 October 2021 00h00.