CARBONDALE — With 5:56 remaining in a see-saw game, Carbondale kicker Macey Davis kicked a 30-yard field goal to give the Terriers a 31-28 win over Champaign Central in the IHSA 5A football playoffs Saturday night.
"We made some big plays night, but none bigger than our sophomore, female kicker Macey Davis getting the game-winning field goal, and that’s a fun sentence to say," said Carbondale coach Bryan Lee.
Carbondale (8-3) was playing in its first playoff game in five years, hosting its first playoff game in 26 years and ended up winning its first playoff game in 25 years and now advances to the second round, where the Terriers will play South Seven champion Cahokia.
"When I took this job four years ago I was told by people I respect that this job was a graveyard for coaches although what I found were kids who will work and make these things happen.," Lee said. "They lost every game the first year and yet they believed in us and stuck it out and here we are at home in the playoffs with a first-round victory."
Before Davis’ heroics, the Terriers defense had stopped the Maroons on a three-and-out to begin the fourth quarter to force a punt from the Central 14 that set up the offense at the Maroons' 47 with 11:45 remaining.
Jakeba Burleigh found Clayton Greer and Tavaris Macklin on two third-and-long conversions during the drive, and later, Greer up the right side for 16 to set up fourth-and-two at the 12, which Burleigh himself converted on the ground.
Carbondale stalled there, though, setting up Davis for the winner.
"They didn’t say anything to me other than to go out and kick," Davis said. "I just kept my eye on the ball and focused on hitting the ball down the middle because whenever I get over to the left my form gets messed up."
Davis then drilled the kickoff deep, and after allowing a pair of first downs, Central threw an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-12, forcing a punt.
After taking possession, Carbondale faced a 3rd-and-14, but Macklin raced around left end, with the chain gang determining his dive at the end gained the first down to ice the game.
The Terriers scored on their opening drive on just five plays, with Macklin catching a 19-yard pass from Burleigh for the score. Davis kicked the extra point and the Terriers led 7-0 just two minutes into the game.
Central's Tarell Evans scored on a 30-yard run following a 25-yard pass from McMahon to Jalen Booker and a 19-yard run by Connor Milton. Pryce Punkay kicked the point and the score was tied with 2:05 remaining in the first quarter.
After a Burleigh fumble backed Carbondale to their own two-yard line, Central took over on downs, and eventually took the lead on a three-yard run by Booker. The point was good and the Maroons led 14-7 with 11:01 left in the half.
Carbondale came right back, with Hilliard racing down the right sideline for a 56-yard score on just the second play of their next drive. Davis was true again and the score was tied 14-14 with 10:37 remaining.
The Terriers' onside kick failed, and eleven plays later, Booker scored from the one and after the kick Central led 21-14 with 5:21 remaining.
On the ensuing drive, Carbondale drove 70 yards on 10 plays, including a 33-yard pass from Burleigh to Reliford, to score on a one-yard run by Blythe with 43 seconds left in the half. Davis kicked the point again to tie the score 21-21 at the half.
After stopping Central on its first drive in the second half, Carbondale drove the 73 yards on 11 plays to retake the lead. Facing a 4th-and-9 from the Central 26, Burleigh and Blythe connected in the right flat for 18 yards. On the next play, Burleigh and Reliford hooked up for an eight-yard touchdown pass. Davis was perfect again on the point to give the Terriers a 28-21 lead with 5:24 remaining in the third.
The Maroons came right back after starting the drive at their 44, taking just five plays for later McMahon to punch it in from the four to tie the game at 28.