Seymour completes fourth-quarter comeback over Floyd Central


The most important play of the game didn’t go as designed.

Down 22-20, with 11.9 ticks left on the game clock, Seymour’s football team lined up on Floyd Central’s 4-yard line.

Owls junior quarterback Brendan Smith snapped the wet ball and faked a handoff to senior running back Nathan O’Mara, and the Highlanders’ entire defense shifted in unison toward its right in pursuit.

Smith kept the ball and rolled around the Owls’ right end untouched for the score, which proved to be the game-winner at Bulleit Stadium.

“We weren’t in the right formation,” Seymour coach Mike Kelly admitted after the game. “I wanted to run the naked play to give us a couple of options on the goal line there. We weren’t in our normal personnel group for our two-minute offense down there. (Smith) did a great job of seeing what was there and taking the opportunity to run around the end and get the touchdown.”

The Class 5A No. 16 Owls scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes of the game to post a 27-22 win over the No. 15 Highlanders on Friday.

In the first quarter, the Highlanders went 13 yards on the opening drive before punting the ball. On the punt, the Owls’ returner dropped the ball, and the Highlanders recovered it on Seymour’s 25-yard line with 8:53 on the clock.

The Highlanders capitalized on the muff, using four plays to score. On the Owls’ 4-yard line, quarterback Trace Willman broke free to the left for a score. On the extra point attempt, the Highlanders botched the snap, and Ezra Barr made a tackle on the kicker to keep Floyd at 6-0 with 6:46 in the first quarter.

The Owls went three-and-out on their first drive but would come up with a big defensive stop on the Highlanders’ next drive. After driving 42 yards, on a fourth-and-11, Willman attempted to roll out for a pass. On the play, on the Owls’ Ethan Corwin sacked the QB for a turnover on downs.

On the next offensive series for Seymour, after two running plays, Smith was intercepted on a long pass attempt. The Highlanders held the Owls to 16 offensive yards and led 6-0 going into the second quarter.

The Highlanders were able to move the ball on seven plays but had to settle for a 28-yard field goal by backup kicker Payton Wells with 9:03 on the clock. The Highlanders’ NCAA Division I prospect kicker, Cole Hussung, did not play in the game.

Seymour finally got its offense rolling on the next drive.

Nathan O’Mara used runs of 12 and 14 yards to help the Owls get to the Highlanders’ 14. On the next play, the sixth of the drive, O’Mara broke free and scored on a run to the left. After a Caleb Elliott kick, the Owls trailed 9-7 with 6:35 in the half.

The Highlanders had two more possessions to the Owls’ one before intermission, but neither team could find the back of the end zone.

In the third quarter, the Owls had possession of the ball on all but four plays.

After a pair of runs by O’Mara, Smith aired out back-to-back passes to Jack Roberts to get to the 50. The Owls then ran the ball five straight times before converting a fourth down on a 10-yard pass from Smith to Elijah Corwin.

On the Highlanders’ 8-yard line, Smith dropped back on third down and was picked off by Tyler Edwards on the right sideline. Edwards returned the ball nearly 90 yards for a touchdown. After the kick by Wells, the Highlanders led 16-7 with just more than six minutes left in the third quarter.

The Owls continued to use the ground-and-pound approach on the next possession, as O’Mara ran the ball on nine of the next 10 offensive snaps. The run game got the Owls in the red zone before O’Mara punched it up the middle for a 6-yard touchdown with two minutes on the clock. Elliott’s kick cut it to 16-14.

Floyd Central ran its first offensive play of the second half with two minutes left in the third quarter. After running the ball three times, the Highlanders had possession going into the fourth quarter with the two-point lead.

They opened the fourth quarter with four running attempts, which got them to the Owls’ 15. On a fourth-and-4, the Owls forced a turnover on downs on a failed passing attempt.

Seymour’s first possession of the fourth quarter was a three-and-out. The Owls punted, and Calvin Brown returned it for a touchdown, but the run was called back due to a holding penalty.

Floyd Central then ran the ball three times before a tip drill-type pass resulted in a 45-yard touchdown. With 6:08 left in the game, the Highlanders’ Tristan Polk threw the ball to a post route. The ball bounced off of the tips of an Owls defender before landing in the arms of a wide-open Landon Deweese, who took it to the house.

After a failed extra point, the Owls started on their own 47 thanks to a penalty by Floyd Central on the kickoff.

Smith hit Elijah Corwin for 11 yards before O’Mara ran the ball six straight times. On the final attempt of the drive, O’Mara scored from 2 yards, and the Owls trailed 22-20 after a failed 2-point passing attempt with 2:58 on the clock.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Highlanders fumbled the ball, which forced them to start on their own 14. They had a chance to ice the game on a third-and-5, but Ethan Corwin and Justice Perry hit the Highlanders’ runner in the backfield to force a punt.

Kelly said the defense came up with some big stops in the game.

“Coach (Brian) Balsmeyer (the defensive coordinator) has done an outstanding job of bringing energy and excitement to the defense,” he said. “He has them playing hard and with passion and pride. I can’t say enough about the job he is doing for us here.”

Starting on their own 44 after the punt, Smith hit Elijah Corwin for 11 yards to get the offense moving. O’Mara than ripped back-to-back runs of 19 and 16yards to get to the Highlanders’ 10. Smith ran for 2 yards and O’Mara went for 5 more yards before coming up in the clutch.

O’Mara unofficially finished with 241 yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries, and Smith had 10 carries for 32 yards and one TD. Smith went 5-for-10 for 54 yards with two interceptions through the air.

“They grew up tonight. I am proud of our guys,” Kelly said. “I’m happy but not satisfied.”

Wenkers Wright led the Highlanders with 139 of the Highlanders’ 263 yards of offense. The Highlanders completed one pass between two QBs on six attempts.

Seymour (3-1, 2-1 HHC) is off to its best start since the 2002 season. The Owls started 5-1 that season before finishing 6-4.

The Owls will go to Bedford North Lawrence (3-1, 2-0 HHC) on Friday. BNL is coming off of a 41-40 last-second win over New Albany on Friday.

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