DECATUR, Ga. – Leading 21-7 late in the fourth quarter, Blessed Trinity seemed headed for a victory last Friday night at Decatur, with the Bulldogs forced to punt as the clock was winding down.
Blessed Trinity coach Tim McFarlin said the punter “shanked” his attempt, with the ball bouncing around in Decatur territory and the Titans seemingly headed for a victory.
Unfortunately for BT, the short kick started a chain reaction of events that produced an ending McFarlin described as “the oddest football game I’ve ever seen.”
Decatur wound up winning 31-28 in two overtimes, thanks to a series of bad breaks, bad plays and bad karma for the Titans.
A Blessed Trinity player made the mistake of attempting to field the short punt, and when he failed to scoop it up cleanly, the Bulldogs recovered and drove for a touchdown to close within 21-14.
They forced a BT punt and with about a minute to play, the Bulldogs tied the game on an 85-yard touchdown pass aided by what McFarlin said was “a breakdown” in the Titans’ secondary.
Blessed Trinity managed to drive into field goal range for a game-winning attempt by kicker Marc Nolan, who McFarlin says “has been automatic all year.” Nolan missed, sending the game into overtime.
Both teams scored in the first extra period, with BT needing only two plays to go 15 yards for a score. The Titans were about to go ahead in the second overtime when Carter McManes, who scored a few plays earlier, fumbled at the goal line.
Decatur recovered and kicked the winning field goal to steal a game the Titans had control of until the shanked punt.
The Titans dominated the game statistically prior to Decatur’s late rally, rushing for 235 yards despite playing without standout tailback Milton Shelton for all but a handful of plays. Chad Manthey and McManes capably filled in for Shelton, with Manthey rushing for over 100 yards, including a 42-yarder for a TD, and McManes adding a pair of scoring runs.
BT also scored on a pass from Chris Keegan to Pat Jasinski, while the Titans defense allowed just one touchdown and little in the way of yardage until the final minutes.
The Titans fall to 3-3, 1-1 in Region 6-AAA. Decatur is 1-2 and 5-2. After playing the region’s two weakest teams the next two weeks, BT will need to beat either region leader St. Pius or Cedar Grove the last two weeks of the season to claim a playoff berth. The Titans are still in position to win the region (if they beat St. Pius) or place second (if they beat Cedar Grove), pending other results.