Ky Muller's 55-yard score on final play keeps Orange perfect
Let’s just say the folks in Hillsborough breathed a sigh of relief Friday night.
And the Tigers of Chapel Hill?
Chapel Hill lost to Orange 6-0 on a touchdown pass as time expired.
The homestanding Tigers nearly hung on to force overtime against their undefeated county rival.
After failing to move the ball effectively all game, Garrett Cloer connected with Ky Muller on a slant pass on fourth down from the Orange 45 as the game clock hit 0:00.
The clock stopped moving, but Muller didn’t. He split the Chapel Hill defense as Tigers defenders grabbed uselessly at his passing shoelaces as he completed the 55-yard dash to the end zone and the win.
On a field field muddied from a defensive grudge match, a thankful Muller went to his knees and looked to the sky.
“I’m very proud of our guys, especially the defense,” Chapel Hill coach Issac Marsh said. “That is one of the best defensive efforts I’ve seen, Coach (defensive coordinator Michael) Bradley had us prepared for tonight.
“Honestly, I don’t know what words I have to give them to console them. We just have to keep fighting.”
Through its first seven games, Orange (8-0, 4-0 Big Eight) averaged 44 points a game and defeated each opponent by an average of 37 points. Its closest game was a 20-point victory over Northwood.
In the first half of Friday’s game, the Tigers (3-5, 2-2) shut the Panthers down. Orange managed to gain only 62 yards of total offense going into halftime.
Led by Hudson Price, the Chapel Hill defensive line and especially Logan Tisch, Nathaniel Powers and DeCory Robinson, collapsed the pocket when Cloer dropped back to pass, and shut down the Orange double wishbone running attack.
Orange had chances to put points on the board, but failed to convert a pair of field goal attempts.
With 1:13 left in the third quarter, a bad snap allowed Chapel Hill to block a 36-yard field goal attempt. Midway through the fourth quarter, Orange had another attempt, this one from 35 yards away, but Brad Barbee’s kick sailed wide left.
On Chapel Hill’s next drive, a pair of slant plays from Grant Deselm to Aaron Hirsch advanced the ball 20 and 9 yards to put the Tigers on the 50 yard line. A few plays later, Deselm converted a fourth-and-one play with a quarterback sneak to put the Tigers into Orange’s side of the field.
But a penalty pushed the Tigers back early in the next set of downs, and three plays later they were punting.
It appeared the game was heading to overtime as the Tigers kept the Panthers on their side of the field until the last play of the game.
“I don’t know what (Coach Marsh) did to get his boys tuned in to this game,” Orange coach Pat Moser said. “They played hard and kept their defenders ahead of us.”
NOTES — Chapel Hill played without star tailback Darius Allen and backup Lonnie Baldwin who were both hurt a week ago. Third-stringer Ricki McDowell managed 44 yards on 15 carries as the Tigers’ new featured back.
ORANGE 6, CHAPEL HILL 0
Orange 0 0 0 6 — 6
Chapel Hill 0 0 0 0 — 0
Orange — Ky Muller 55 pass from Garrett Cloer (no conversion attempt), 0:00.
RUSHING — Orange, Tay Jones 8-50, Patrick Pettiford 11-32, Michael Bolden 4-24. Chapel Hill, Ricki McDowell 15-44, Brandon Wendel 7-13, Grant Deselm 7-2.
PASSING — Orange, Garrett Cloer 6-21-1 111. Chapel Hill — Grant Deselm 10-26-3 113.
RECEIVING — Orange, Ky Muller 3-74, Patrick Pettiford 2-37, Tay Jones 2-2. Chapel Hill, Aaron Hirsch 4-69, Austin Turner 5-34, Brandon Wendel 1-10.
Records — Orange 8-0, 4-0 Big Eight 3-A; Chapel Hill 3-5, 2-2 Big Eight 3-A.