Shelby-Rising City and Oakland-Craig were tied 22-22 with seven seconds left in the first round of the Class C2 football playoffs in Oakland on Oct. 26 when disaster struck for the Huskies.
Forced to punt after three plays were unable to run the final seconds off the clock, the snap sailed over the punters head and into the SR-C end zone. In a mad dash to recover the loose ball, it was the Knights who finally gained possession.
That recovery meant a touchdown and an abrupt, heartbreaking loss 28-22.
“I’ve coached for over 30 years and I’ve never had an ending like that before,” said head coach Kevin Kopecky. “Just unbelievable. The timing, with no time left, just unbelievable. I feel so bad for this football team, especially our great group of seniors.”
Shelby-Rising City had 13 seniors including starting quarterback Mason Schleis who went 17 of 21 for 237 yards and three touchdowns.
After the game, Kopecky told his team that they had to stand together after such a disappointing loss.
“We just have to be there for each other,” he said. “Obviously, our long snapper feels bad about it. This game didn’t just come down to one play like that. Other people might think that it did, but he’s a great kid and it just happened and it happened at a horrible time, but we have to be there for each other was my message. This is a great group of young men. They represented our school really well. I’m very, very proud of them.”
This senior class for the Huskies includes – WR/LB Dylan Rathman, WR/DB Austin Coffin, OL/DL Andric Garcia, OL/LB Jacob Willis, OL/DL Nick Vavricek, OL/DL Connor Morrison, WR/DB Connor Rathman, OL/DL Alex Bunde, WR/LB Wyatt Whitmore, WR/DL Max Hoatson, OL/DL Clayton Watts and Schleis.
Shelby-Rising City finished the season with a 6-4 record.
From the beginning of the game, it was Oakland-Craig’s rushing attack against the air raid of Shelby-Rising City.
The first quarter was scoreless as Oakland-Craig fumbled on the opening drive for the lone turnover of the game and Shelby-Rising City punted on its opening possession.
On the first play of the second quarter, the Knights found the end zone on a 10-yard touchdown pass.
The Huskies then used a fake punt on their next drive to set up a 34-yard touchdown pass from Schleis to Hoatson and succeeded on a two-point conversion to take an 8-7 lead.
After forcing a three-and-out, the Huskies scored on their following drive, this time on a 13-yard hook up through the air from Schleis to Hoatson to take a 14-7 lead.
Oakland-Craig had one more opportunity before the half and took advantage driving down the field and scoring on a 1-yard run to tie the game at 14-14 going into the half.
Both teams traded punts to start the second half.
Shelby-Rising City eventually broke the tie when Schleis found junior Grant Lindsley for the 6-yard touchdown completion to take a 22-14 lead.
Near the end of the third quarter, Oakland-Craig went for a fake punt but was unsuccessful, giving SR-C the ball on the 42-yard line.
The Huskies were unable to capitalize on the field position to begin the fourth quarter and had to punt the ball after going three-and-out.
The Knights then put together a long touchdown drive that lasted 16 plays ending on a 1-yard touchdown run leaving only three minutes and 21 seconds left in the game.
SRC then went three-and-out once again.
The Huskies defense stepped up and forced a punt with 47.2 seconds left in the game, but the offense was unable to waste the remainder of the clock and found itself punting deep in its own end.
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Banner-Press reach him via email at DVDsports@lee.net