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For the Owen County Rebels and their fans, this one must have hurt.
Owen County dug itself a hole for the first three-and-a-half quarters of Saturday night’s game with Grant County. The Rebels spent the final six minutes of the game digging out.
Just as it appeared the game was headed to overtime, disaster struck.
The Rebels were their own worst enemy in the first half. Turnovers and penalties stymied drives.
With just under four minutes to play in the half, the Grant County punter pinned the Rebels deep in their own territory. After a three and out, Justin Davis was forced to punt the ball out of his own end zone. The punt ended up coming to rest on the 40-yard line giving the Braves good field position.
The Braves marched down the field and with 40-seconds left in the half, quarterback Randy Salyers took the ball in from 3 yards out to give Grant County a 7-0 halftime advantage.
As it turned out, it would not be Salyers’ only last-second touchdown of the night.
The Rebels were not able to do much with the ball in third quarter. They were given a big break when it appeared the Braves were ready to cross the goal line again before a fumble was recovered by Owen County at the 1-yard line.
Again, the Rebels were forced to punt and again the Braves ended up with good field position and capitalized with a 30-yard field goal to take a 10-0 lead with 1:29 left in the third quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Jared Johnson found a seam and turned in a nice return to set up the Rebels and provide a momentary spark.
The offense managed to get the ball to the Braves’ 6-yard line where they were faced with a third and short.
After a penalty moved the ball back 5 yards, Owen County was unable to get a first down and were forced to line up for a field goal. The 24-yard attempt turned into a 29-yard attempt after another penalty pushed the ball back. Davis’ field goal then went wide left.
Despite the setback, the Rebels soldiered on.
After the missed field goal, the defense forced a fumble and gave the offense another chance.
The Rebels marched the ball to the 2-yard line where they again faced third down. Another penalty moved the ball back once again and the Rebels could not convert on third down setting up Davis with another field-goal try. His 24-yard boot split the uprights, cutting the deficit to 10-3 with five minutes to play.
Following the score, the defense forced Grant County into a three and out and the Rebels got the ball back at the 48-yard line with just over four minutes left in the game.
Quarterback Cody McDaniel ran the ball to the 25-yard line and after a penalty moved the ball back five yards setting up first and 15 at the 30-yard line.
On the next play, McDaniel dumped the ball off to Johnson, who used a combination of good blocks and nifty moves to get into the end zone.
Davis nailed the extra point and with just over three minutes on the clock, the game was tied at 10-10.
It appeared the Rebels were going to get the ball back as the Braves lined up to punt with just over a minute remaining.
Instead of kicking the ball, however the punter rolled to his right and rumbled for a first down.
On the next play, Salyers completed a pass to the 1-yard line setting up first-and-goal. Salyers took the next snap and snuck across the goal line for the go-ahead score with 1:01 left.
With the touchdown and extra point, the score moved to 17-10.
The Rebels moved the ball to near midfield before an interception ended the drive on fourth down with just seconds left.
Despite the loss, the Rebels did have some bright spots.
McDaniel went 18-33 through the air for 221 yards. He also carried the ball 11 times for 86 yards. Jared Johnson was named the Rebels’ MVP of the game for his efforts.
Despite being disappointed by the outcome, Owen County Head Coach Adam Fowler told his team to remember how they felt after losing and to come back Monday ready to go back to work.
“We’re too good to be happy with close calls,” Fowler said.
The coach said he hopes in the long run that the loss can be turned into a positive.
“This makes us better,” said Fowler.
The Rebels will have a chance to erase the bad memories of Saturday night as they are back in action Friday at Gallatin County. Kick off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.