Blocked Punt, 24 4th Quarter Points & Last-Second Field Goal Sends Football To NAIA Playoffs

FORT WORTH, Texas ‚ÄstThe Louisiana Christian University football program entered the fourth quarter trailing by 14 (24-10), on the road, against the 15th-ranked team in¬† the country, needing an additional 24 points while also shutting out a high-powered offense to earn an automatic bid to the NAIA Playoffs.

Some would say the Wildcats needed nothing short of a miracle for their playoff aspirations to come true . . . well, prayer answered.

The comeback started in earnest with 12:36 left in regulation when Kiaron Rudd burst through the Rams punt protection to block the kick and was scooped up by Nate Sullivan who took it 40 yards back to the end zone for the score. The deficit was still seven, but at that moment those in the stadium could feel the momentum shift in the blink of an eye in favor of the visitors from Central Louisiana.

A quick three-and-out by the LCU defense on the following possession further solidified the feeling that things were about to change dramatically.

Sure enough, six plays and 71 yards later, Devin Briscoe rumbled into the end zone for his second score of the day and we were all squared away at 24 apiece with still over nine minutes left to go.

One first down by the Rams led to another punt and five minutes on the clock, a conference championship was in clear reach but the playoff berth seemed like a pipe dream, until it wasn’t.

After a one-yard rush, signal-caller Sal Palermo III looked deep and saw a wide open Sammy Feaster streaking down the middle of the field, nobody within ten yards of him, TOUCHDOWN WILDCATS!!!!

Louisiana Christian had incredibly taken the lead back with three touchdowns in just over seven minutes to build a 31-24 lead with 4:10 left.

Before the scoreboard could even reach four minutes, the Cats had the ball back yet again thanks to an acrobatic one-handed interception by Cole Jones that gave LCU a short field in which to get the ten-point margin they needed.

Unfortunately, the offense stalled at the TXWES 27-yard line but a field goal was still all Coach Maddox and the Cats needed . . . the kick was no good.

With the field goal fluttering wide right and Texas Wesleyan reclaiming the ball with 2:55, the playoffs got pushed to the back burner as the main focus was keeping the SAC Championship intact.

A Logan Brimmer sack was the primary reason for a 3-and-out that followed, but with 4th-and-8 down by seven, TWU punted the ball away which would be a Cardinal sin if not for the fact that the current result, even in defeat, would still give the Rams the AQ, so they played the differential numbers game.

A 28-yard run by Taevion Cunningham all but sealed the win and the share of the Sooner Conference title but Coach Maddox knew what was at stake.

He called a timeout with 3 seconds left when a kneel down would’ve had done the job, but he wanted the playoffs.

Out came Hunter Martensson, the long-range placekicker who had lost his grandparents earlier in the season, needing to make a 40-yard field goal to send the Cats dancing.

The Rams called a timeout to try and ice him, he said a prayer and lined up for the kick. The ball seemingly hung in the air for an eternity, it started to veer towards the right goal post but curved back through.

Pandemonium in Fort Worth, Texas!

24 unanswered fourth quarter points and the biggest comeback win in program history had been completed.

The players stormed the field off the sideline, dogpiling on top of Martensson at the bottom of it, hugs were given, tears were shed, a Gatorade shower was bestowed, choruses of “ring me” were shouted from various student-athletes.

The impossible had happened, the Louisiana Christian Wildcats, who had never won a Conference Championship in 84 seasons dating back to the early 1900s, a team that had made just one previous playoff appearance since being resurrected  in 2000, was going to the NAIA Playoffs for the first time in school history!

“It’s an amazing feeling and I’m just so proud for our players and the guys that bought in and worked hard these last few years for us,” said Head Coach¬†Drew Maddox¬†on the bus ride home. “Can’t wait to see who we play in the playoffs.”

The team will find out exactly who they will play during the NAIA Football Selection Show on Sunday evening at 6 p.m., which fans can watch live on the NAIA’s YouTube channel,¬†here.

“Wow! What a year and what a comeback Saturday in Fort Worth. Coach Maddox and the staff and student-athletes of LCU’s football program are to be applauded for the turnaround we are witnessing,” University President Dr. Rick Brewer proclaimed. “Indeed, the strategic move to the NAIA continues to prove to be a significant “game changer” for every athletic program at LCU.”

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#ClawsUp | #Focused | #RingSZN