Many high school coaches will say to win a game or season, a team needs individual talent, flawless teamwork, and occasionally, a little bit of luck.
That occasion was not on hand for Chickasha in their 32-29 overtime loss at home to Altus on Friday. It was no more evident than in the second extra period when the Fightin' Chicks, determined to snatch a victory in their own homecoming game, blocked a Bulldogs field goal that would have won the game.
Unfortunately, the ball never crossed the line of scrimmage, and the referee had to blow his whistle, inadvertently.
"The rules are pretty clear that when you have an inadvertent whistle, you replay the down," Chickasha head coach Tom Cobble said.
The rules are also clear that when the ball does not cross the line of scrimmage during a field goal attempt, it is still a live ball that can be advanced by either team. Neither got the chance to do that Friday night, meaning Altus was able to line up again and kick for the winning three points.
Up until then, the teams were essentially even, and not just on points scored. Altus had 111 more rushing yards, but Chickasha had two more passes completed for 10 more yards and a touchdown. Both ended up with 18 first downs each, both were called for penalties six times; Altus held the ball almost ten minutes longer, but Chickasha recorded ten more tackles.
There's no hiding the biggest difference on the field, when with one second left Sterling Clapham's 30 yard field goal attempt from the far-right hashmark went just wide to the left. Even then, Altus needed two bites of the cherry to get their crucial winner, and it could have gone differently had it not been for that single whistle.
"I was pleased and proud of how we played," Cobble said. "There were just individual plays that almost all went against us. Sometimes you have to get snake eyes three times in a row before it starts working for you."
The Chicks appropriately go to an even 2-2 on the season after the defeat, but there are positive things to look for as the season goes on. Nine completions from 14 pass attempts by Cade Morris seems to indicate Chickasha is finding a better passing rhythm. Then there is the consistently good performance on the ground by Morris and running back Josh Latham, who at 5 ft. 9 in. and 215 pounds is a handful for tacklers. Latham helped keep drives alive against Altus while racking up 57 yards on 11 carries.
"He's obviously a great inside runner, but he can get outside, too, and make a big difference," Cobble said. "He's got that blend of great strength, speed, and his body mass and center of gravity makes him tough to bring down."