NEW MATAMORAS - Any football fan knows that if your team is down 42-7, the odds are pretty good that you are going down to defeat. Last weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to actually see a team come back and win from such a deficit.
The Beallsville Blue Devils led the home-standing Frontier Cougars 42-7 with just over seven minutes left in the 3rd quarter Friday night in New Matamoras and lost 48-42 in overtime.
It was the wildest, most amazing high school football game I have ever seen. It took a perfect storm of events and attitudes to enable this to occur.
The aggressive play calling from the Beallsville coaching staff had led to the big lead, and I guess you can't fault them for trying to keep the ball in the air.
The problem lies in the fact that football is a game of adjustments, and the Cougars made the ones they needed to slow down the Blue Devil passing game.
The Blue Devil mistake was in not recognizing that fact, and compounded by not considering the game situation and just burning the clock on the ground.
The Frontier Cougars simply would not stop playing. You cannot coach this, either the kids have heart or they don't. The Cougars do in abundance. Once the tide turned, there was simply no stopping them.
One key to the comeback was that after Frontier scored on a short drive to make it 42-14, the Blue Devils came right back throwing the ball. If they would have stayed on the ground they could have probably used up most of the 3rd quarter and sealed the deal.
Of course they didn't, and Reid Tilton's interception quickly resulted in another Cougar touchdown to make it 42-21. Fickle momentum had cleared jumped to the home sideline.
When the next Beallsville possession resulted in a three and out that used only 30 seconds of the clock, I started to sit up and take notice in the press box. You just knew Frontier was going to score again.
Of course it did, on a Corey Fickiesen pass to Tilton. As the fourth quarter began the score was a suddenly manageable 42-28.
I think many fans tend to root for the underdog, and when the home team is the underdog the crowd usually goes bananas. The Cougar faithful were getting loud and Beallsville had clearly lost their composure.
The ensuing six-play, 45-yard drive by Frontier culminated in a one-yard touchdown plunge by Tilton that made the score 42-34. The impossible seemed to be happening before my very eyes.
I have watched many games and I have seen many comebacks. Often times, it takes so much energy to get back into a ballgame that the trailing team simply runs out of gas at the end.
The fourth quarter may have been the most entertaining 12 minutes of football I have ever seen. It had so many ups and downs, I felt like I was riding a roller coaster.
The Cougars had ample opportunity to throw in the towel. When Beallsville converted a fake punt on its next drive to get the ball into Frontier territory, they could have packed it in.
They didn't, as they stopped the Blue Devils on downs and quickly marched to the Beallsville one-yard line on a great run by Jake Brunoni.
With three minutes left in the game, and the Cougars knocking on the door for the tying touchdown, disaster struck Frontier. Fickiesen fumbled the snap and the Blue Devils recovered to seemingly win the ballgame.
But the Cougars persevered. They forced another three-and-out and after a short punt, took possession at the 48-yard line. With only 1:09 left, Fickiesen crossed the stripe to send the game into overtime and the fans into hysteria.
In overtime, the Cougars scored first and the defense rose up again to smite the Blue Devils for the unlikely come-from-behind victory.
I hope to cover games for many more years to come, the odds of my ever seeing a game like this again are astronomical. Most football movies don't have a plot that unbelievable.
It was a privilege to see it in person, and man was it fun.
Jim Markley is a Marietta Times sports writer, and can be reached at 376-5439