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Miracle in the mud

Miracle in the mud
Miracle in the mud
Corydon CentralÂ’s Thomas Pickman, covered in mud, celebrates a win for the Panthers. Photo by Ross Schulz (click for larger version)

Backed up deep in their own territory and facing a desperation down and distance of fourth and 16 late in the final quarter, Corydon Central Panther senior Dylan Harl heaved a deep ball into double coverage. The well-thrown ball was miraculously pulled in by fellow senior Garett Ross around midfield, and the Salem defenders were unable to track down Ross before he secured the game-tying, 76-yard touchdown with just 2:53 remaining in the game.
Ross said the play had been called a couple of times previously, and he was excited when it was called near the end of the game.
‘It’s just great,’ he said. ‘I can’t even describe how it feels.’
The ‘instant classic’ ending would not have been complete without the extra point, which was made more difficult in the wet conditions, but Brandon Dunaway booted the PAT kick through to give Corydon Central a 7-6 lead.
The Panthers’ defense held Salem (4-4, 3-3) on its final drive and also kept the Lions out of the end zone by forcing and recovering a fumble in the fourth quarter, setting up the Harl-to-Ross touchdown connection.
‘We stole that game,’ coach Darin Ward, who collected his 25th victory at the school Friday, said. ‘But, that’s what happens when you don’t let them score.’
Ward said he was proud of his seniors and his team for working hard all season and ‘buying in’ to the coaching staff’s system.
He said the 5-1 record and second-place Mid-Southern Conference finish is something the program can build upon.
Before the late-game heroics by two seniors on Senior Night, it appeared the driving rain, extremely sloppy condition of the field and a strong effort from the visiting Lions’ defense would keep the Panthers off of the scoreboard.
The area between the hashes on the field was a mud pit from the opening kick, quickly coloring Salem’s white uniforms a shade of murky brown.
Salem took advantage of four Panther fumbles, two of which were recovered by the Lions and led to the only first-half score, a Christian Chastain 15-yard run. The extra point, which proved later to be the difference in the game, was no good.
Most of the game was played around the middle of the field, as neither team could gain much traction on the sloppy field.
Corydon Central did move into Salem territory in the fourth quarter after a 33-yard run by Seth Rennirt, who led the rushing attack with 63 yards on 16 carries. The drive ended with Harl throwing his first interception of the season on fourth and six, but the strong-armed senior would get his redemption a few minutes later. Harl finished the game 4 of 11 for 104 yards, leaving him just 13 yards shy of 1,000 yards for the season.
The stingy Panther defense was led by Tyler Jones with 13 tackles.
Corydon Central will complete the regular season Friday at Tecumseh. The Panthers improved to 5-3 overall after the Salem win. The three loses have come against teams with a combined record of 23-1.
Seniors recognized before the game were Harl, Ross, Michael Beauchamp, Sam Kintner, Nathan Lawton, Casey Saulman and James Shireman.