LOCAL NEWS

Coach, kicker & official reflect on Cottonwood High’s rare, game-winning play

Oct 4, 2022, 10:20 AM

MURRAY, Utah — Three days after an unlikely play centered around a little-known rule resulted in a late victory for Cottonwood High School’s football team, the coach, kicker and an official were reflecting on what unfolded.

Cottonwood defeated Jordan High School, 25-24, on Friday after the Colts attempted and converted a free kick for three points with 12 seconds left following a fair catch on a punt.

Coach Casey Miller said he had always had his teams practice the free kick play, though it had rarely ever been used in football.

According to fair catch rules found in the National Federation of State High School Associations football rule book, “the captain may choose to free kick or snap anywhere between the hash marks: (a) on the yard line through the spot of the catch when a fair catch is made.”

“Most of the kids think I’m just making stuff up,” Miller laughed as he recalled previous conversations with his players. “I’m like, ‘This is the rule.’ ‘No, it’s not!’”

Miller said the decision was hatched against Jordan as the Colts navigated back from a 24-16 deficit with three minutes remaining. The team still had three timeouts left following a touchdown and failed two-point conversion that closed the gap to 24-22.

The coach said rather than an onside kick, he made the decision to kick the ball deep and try to pin Jordan back while using his timeouts.

The strategy worked following a series of negative result plays that included a penalty and sack, pinning Jordan at the five-yard line and forcing a punt.

“At that point, I’m sold — ‘We’re doing it,’” Miller said. “I’ve never seen a chance to do this play in my life. If it’s not going to happen now, it will never happen in my lifetime.”

A fair catch was made and Cottonwood came out in a free kick formation for kicker Ryan Nielson.

Miller said on his previous timeout call he warned an official that’s what his plan was.

“He didn’t believe me at first because he’s been doing it for I don’t remember how long, but he’s like, ‘I’ve never seen it,’” Miller recalled in an interview with KSL TV. “I said, ‘Well, here it comes, so be ready for it because I’m sure you’re going to have to explain to a lot of people what’s going on.’”

Neilson booted the free kick 47 yards through the uprights, giving Cottonwood three points and a 25-24 lead, which the team preserved through the final remaining seconds.

“I mean the first time I’d ever heard of it was the first time I practiced it,” Nielson said. “A couple yards before it went in, I just started celebrating because I knew it was in.”

Back judge Richard Lamoreaux told KSL TV he was only familiar with the play through the rulebook.

“(I) never had it come up — only on a test,” he laughed.

The win improved the Colts’ record to 2-6.

“We got a big shot in the arm after that kick went in,” Miller said.

He said he was grateful all the preparation his team put in for the rarely-called play resulted in a win and an important lesson.

“We don’t quit — we keep fighting,” Miller said. “All you can do is try to win the next play.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

...
Karah Brackin

Utah Veterans head to Washington D.C. for ‘trip of a lifetime’

75 veterans left Salt Lake City for Washington D.C. Tuesday morning.
2 months ago
Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, introduces himself as a member of a n...
Ashley Imlay, KSL.com & Aimee Cobabe, KSL NewsRadio

Supreme Court declines to hear Utah gun rights activist’s appeal to overturn bump stock ban

A prominent Utah gun rights activist has lost his bid to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the federal bump stock ban.
2 months ago
Yvette Rodier, shooting survivor...
Amy Donaldson, KSL Podcasts

LETTER PODCAST: Victim says bullet wounds were easiest part of recovery

When Yvette Rodier woke up in a hospital, she knew, even before anyone told her, that her friend, Zachary Snarr, was dead.
2 months ago
Housing construction....
Ladd Egan

Unaffordable Utah: Mortgage rates climb again as buyers look for price reductions

Utah's housing market is whiplashing as last year's buying frenzy seems to have slowed down to signs of a recession.
2 months ago
FILE...
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage

Get Gephardt: How cybercriminals use social engineering to get us to hand over our sensitive info

You can have the strongest, most secure password in the history of cybersecurity, but the bad guys know there is one weakness they can use to hack into your system - you!
2 months ago
The ground breaking of the High Valley Transit offices....
Carter Williams, KSL.com and Jed Boal, KSL TV

Utah’s newest transit system breaks ground on $26M new home

High Valley Transit broke ground on a new 61,277-square-foot facility that will house the transit organization's administrative and operations offices.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Coach, kicker & official reflect on Cottonwood High’s rare, game-winning play