What a way to start a season.
Before a packed house at Callaway Stadium Friday night, the Callaway Cavaliers and LaGrange Grangers put on a show.
The Grangers built a 14-0 lead in the fourth quarter, but the Cavaliers fought back to tie it with just 21 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.
After LaGrange was stopped on its first overtime possession, quarterback Dre Martin scored on a 4-yard touchdown run to give Callaway a thrilling 20-14 victory.
“I couldn’t be prouder of a group of kids,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said. “They work so hard at practice every day, and we put them through hard times. They handle it each day, and to come out here and see it pay off after some frustrations was so big. For our kids to be down 14 points and come back and keep their composure, just says they’re a great group of winners. And I’m just proud to be a part of them.”
For LaGrange, it was a heart-breaking way to begin a new season.
The Grangers did plenty right on the night, but they were unable to finish things off.
“We have to find a way to over that hump. And it’s coming,” said Dialleo Burks, who was making his debut as Callaway’s head coach. “At some point, it’s going to come together.”
After a scoreless first half, LaGrange put the first points on the board late in the third quarter.
After forcing a turnover, LaGrange went to work.
The Grangers thought they’d scored on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Amad Ogletree to Laperion Perry, but that play was negated by a penalty.
Unphased, the Grangers kept marching down the field, and Kimani Barnes scored on a 1-yard run with 1:15 left in the third quarter, and Nathan Patton’s extra point made it a 7-0 game.
Mon Denson had a 15-yard run that put the Grangers on the doorstep of the end zone.
LaGrange padded its lead early in the fourth quarter.
After a short punt, the Grangers had the ball at the Cavaliers’ 43-yard line.
Three plays after a Perry 32-yard run put the ball on the 11-yard line, Jeremiah Wright scored on a 9-yard run, and Patton’s extra point was true, and LaGrange was up 14-0 with 9:22 left in the game.
After the teams traded punts, the Cavaliers had the ball at their own 31-yard line with just 5:36 left to play, and they were in desperate need of a big play.
They got it from a familiar source, all-state wide receiver Terry Godwin.
Godwin took a short pass from Martin and went 29 yards to the LaGrange 27-yard line.
On the next play, Martin pitched the ball back to wide receiver Braylon Sanders, who found Godwin in the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown.
Cameron Spinks made the extra point, and LaGrange’s lead was down to 14-7 with 4:59 to play.
The Grangers looked like they might be able to run the clock out after Ogletree’s 44-yard run put the ball on the Callaway 30-yard line with less than three minutes left.
On the first-down play, though, the Cavaliers recovered a fumble, and they still had life.
The Cavaliers lost nine yards on the first two plays of the possesson, and they faced a third-and-long from their own 10-yard line.
Martin then found Nick Woodyard on the sideline for a 20-yard completion, and the Cavaliers had a first down at their own 30.
The Cavaliers continued to march down the field, and when Martin found Cortney Laye for a 14-yard completion, they had the ball on the 6-yard line.
On the next play, Eddie Culpepper scored on a 6-yard run, and Spinks came through with the clutch extra point to tie it at 14-14 with 21 seconds left.
“Coach told us to keep fighting,” Culpepper said. “Every day we face adversity. The key word is adversity, and he tells us that every day. We’re in the hot sun practicing, even in the rain. He tell us to keep fighting, and that’s what we did.”
In overtime, each team got the ball once at the 15-yard line.
LaGrange had the ball first, and it found itself facing a fourth-and-one at the 1-yard line.
The Cavaliers came up with the huge stop, and they needed a field goal or a touchdown on their overtime possession to win it.
After a penalty, Culpepper had runs of 12 and four yards to put the ball on the 4-yard line.
Martin took it in the left side of the end zone for the touchdown run, and the Cavaliers had the win, and the celebration was on.
“I just took it in the end zone,” Martin said. “That’s the only thing I had on my mind. I had to win it for the team.”
OF NOTE: For much more on Friday’s game, check out www.lagrangenews.com, as well as Monday’s print edition.