Carol City, up one point with one minute to go, needed to gain 1 yard to seal their win over host Chaminade-Madonna on Friday night.
So the Chiefs sent senior running back Tywan Cash up the middle at the heart of the Chaminade defense.
When the fourth-down play came to an end, Cash appeared to be stopped short of the first-down marker.
The referees disagreed. They ruled forward progress gave Cash a first down, a call that clinched Carol City’s 14-13 win over Chaminade-Madonna.
“There was forward progress, I believe that,” Carol City coach Josh Taylor said. “He deserved every yard that he got right there.”
Chaminade-Madonna coach Dameon Jones — and the home crowd — thought otherwise.
“Sometimes the ball don’t bounce your way,” Jones said. “Everybody in. the stadium knew it was short, but the referee saw something different. Guess what? You’ve got to roll with it.”
Nevertheless, the Chiefs (2-2), a Class 4A state title contender in a stacked Region 4, snapped a two-game losing streak thanks to that call and a big night from Cash.
The senior was thrust into a prominent role with Katravis Geter and Darius Chester out with injuries.
And Cash delivered. He finished with 132 yards on 23 carries and scored both of Carol City’s touchdowns — a 1-yard scamper with 18.9 seconds left in the first quarter and a 19-yard go-ahead run with 6:19 left in the third quarter.
“Everybody that knows Carol City knows we’re deep in the backfield,” Taylor said. “Tywan, it was his turn and he stepped up majorly.”
And his performance came after Carol City found itself in an early two-score hole.
The Chiefs went three-and-out on their first drive and their punter’s knee touched the ground on his punt attempt, giving Chaminade-Madonna (3-1) a short field. The Lions scored two plays later on a 1-yard Thaddius Franklin touchdown run.
Chaminade-Madonna, the two-time defending Class 3A state champs who had won 12 consecutive games heading into Friday, made it 10-0 five minutes later on an Andres Borregales field goal before Carol City rallied back.
The Lions would manage just one more field goal — a 38-yarder by Borregales — to make it 14-13 Carol City with 1:09 left in the third quarter.
The Chiefs held Chaminade-Madonna scoreless the rest of the way. Maxeau Joseph gave Carol City the ball for good when he intercepted Chaminade-Madonna’s Alex Law with 3:47 left. Four runs — and one controversial call later — Carol City could safely run out the clock.
Carol City heads to Jacksonville next week to face Trinity Christian. Chaminade-Madonna travels to Delray Atlantic.