Last night's assignment was to cover the Kemper County/NW Lauderdale football game, the first of the season for me. Going into the game, I was certain of a Kemper County win. They ARE the defending Class 3A football champions and did win 15 games last year, with the only loss to 4A powerhouse, Louisville. The only game I saw them play last year was a 72 to 6 blowout of their opponent.
At the end of the half, they led 34 to 6. For sure, I was certain of a KC win, and almost left but didn't. As happens in football a lot, an untimely turnover by Kemper County turned into a score for NE Lauderdale. Then another turnover that turned into points for the home team. Now they were back in the game 34 to 20 and smelling blood.
They scored twice more, with the Wildcats not able to do anything offensively. NE Lauderdale's final touchdown put the score at 34 to 33 and instead of going for the tie, as I suspected they would, the coach opted to go for the two point conversion for the win and they executed perfectly and then led the game.
2:44 is a lot of time for a quick scoring team like KC, and with a long run and a long pass completion they got into the red zone with less than a minute to go. Lauderdale them held them on four downs but a defensive penalty(celebration) on fourth down gave the Wildcats another chance from the two yard line and NEL held them for an unbelievable come from behind win. A much needed win for this program I might add.
As I walked back to the car, for the 105 mile ride back home, I was thinking about football, and sports in general and the lessons in adversity that come with sports, and a quote by golf great Sam Snead came to mind:
The mark of a great player is in his ability to come back. The great champions have all come back from defeat.
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