CALEDONIA — Mention “The Catch” to a San Francisco 49ers fan, and they immediately recall the game.
Same thing when you say “The Drive” to a Denver Broncos fan.
Now, Caledonia High School football has “The Measurement,” only this memorable moment worked against the Cavaliers.
Senatobia’s Jordan Osborn burst through the line on a third-and-1 play and raced 36 yards for the go-ahead score with 2:11 left, lifting the Warriors to a 34-27 win over the Cavaliers in the MHSAA Class 4A semifinals on Friday night at Caledonia High School.
The winning three-play drive began after the Cavaliers were stopped on third down and again on fourth down after taking the ball at their own 35 following a Senatobia kickoff that went out of bounds.
But were they stopped?
On third down, quarterback Daniel Wilburn Jr. started up the middle, bounced off the pack and went left for 4 yards and an apparent first down. The officials spotted the ball right on the 45, with the nose of the ball over the line. The first down seemed obvious.
Yet, the officials called for a measurement. Somehow, they called it short and signaled fourth down.
“I really don’t have much of an explanation,” Caledonia coach Michael Kelly said. “I don’t understand why we had to measure. The ball started on the 35, the field is measured out in 10-yard increments, the ball is clearly over the 45, we measured, and it was somewhat short.”
With the game tied at 27-27 and the clock under 4 minutes, the Cavs elected to go for it on fourth down. Wilburn was absolutely stuffed on the play, but again, the officials called for the chain gang.
“Instead of spotting the ball, they pick the ball up and move it to measure it, and we’re only an inch short,” Kelly said. “Somebody’s got to explain to me 35 to 45. That should be a first down.”
The Warriors took possession on the Cavs’ 45-(ish)-yard line, and three plays later Osborn scored his second touchdown of the game.
The Cavs weren’t done, reaching the Senatobia 29 in the final minute, but Zack Gorum’s pass floated into the waiting arms of Senatobia senior safety Hunter Mabry at the Warriors’ 6 to end the threat.
“That one little measurement is not going to win or lose,” Kelly said. “We didn’t make the plays defensively in the second half. We couldn’t sustain drives in the second half offensively.”
The Warriors dominated the second half, compiling 243 of their 376 total yards after halftime. And it started quickly.
On the third play of the third quarter, JaBrysten Abram caught a short pass over the middle from Tyreese Hullette and took off for an 80-yard touchdown. The botched extra point left Caledonia ahead 20-13.
“We jumped a couple of routes, and we just didn’t tackle very well,” Kelly said. “I was real displeased with that, especially in the secondary.”
The momentum turned even more after the Cavs lost 2 yards on three plays and punted. Hullette capped a 10-play drive that was aided by a pass interference call with a 5-yard keeper to tie the score for the Warriors.
Suddenly, a 13-point halftime lead was a brand-new ball game.
But the Cavaliers answered with their only solid drive of the second half, with Curtavis Johnson capping a 10-play, 67-yard march with a 1-yard plunge to put the Cavs back in front.
“That’s a testament to what kind of kids we’ve got, where our program’s at, where these kids are,” Kelly said of the go-ahead drive. “We’ve stared things in the face before a lot worse than that.”
But the Warriors tied it again, motoring 52 yards on nine plays with Hullette taking it the last 13 yards to make it 27-27. That Senatobia needed only 52 yards was an issue for Kelly.
“Giving them the ball on the 50-yard line on special teams, on kickoffs, has killed us,” he said.
The ensuing kickoff set the stage for the wild finish, a finish that didn’t seem likely at halftime. But Caledonia, which had rushed for 199 yards before intermission, managed just 61 yards after it, 51 on one drive.
Caledonia wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard, with Wilburn faking a handoff and running 44 yards to set up a 3-yard run by Johnson less than 2 minutes into the game for a 6-0 lead.
They used a short field to add to it early in the second quarter. Hullette was sacked on back-to-back plays by Will Donald and Ethan Ramirez to force a punt inside the Warriors’ 10. Under heavy pressure, the punt went basically straight up and bounced only to the 25.
From there, it was Johnson inside, Johnson right, Triplett on a sweep, a Wilburn keeper and Johnson up the middle for the touchdown that made it 13-0.
The Warriors answered, again starting with good field position at their own 40. A catch-and-run to Abram for 26 yards set the stage for Jordan Osborn’s 13-yard score, bouncing off would-be tacklers along the way.
Triplett answered, taking a pitch right on the first play after the kickoff and scampering 67 yards for a score with 3:23 left in the half. That made it 20-7, the lead Caledonia took into halftime.
It could have been much closer. The Warriors drove deep into Caledonia territory twice with nothing to show for it.
First, a 14-play drive reached the Cavs’ 5, but a holding penalty proved costly. Hullette then was intercepted in the end zone by junior Braden Walters on fourth down.
On Senatobia’s last possession of the half, a 45-yard run by Osborn put the Warriors back in the red zone. But, after a fumbled pitch cost them 4 yards, Hullette’s fourth-and-11 pass to the goal line was incomplete as the Senatobia sideline screamed for pass interference.
Triplett finished with 99 yards on 9 carries, while Wilburn rushed for 68 yards and Johnson added 59, mostly inside.
For the Warriors, Osborn rushed 23 times for 171 yards and Hullette was 11 of 21 for 173 yards, with Abram making 5 catches for 118 yards.
There were plenty of hugs and a few tears as the Cavaliers, several looking somewhat stunned, absorbed the end of what had been an incredible season.
“This is supposed to hurt right now,” Kelly said. “If it doesn’t hurt us as coaches, our players, even our fan base, then I’ve got to worry about that.”
It certainly will hurt, but this year’s Cavaliers had the kind of season people around town will talk about for years.
“The seniors we’ve got, I can’t say enough about them,” Kelly said. “They put our program on the map. Caledonia football is here to stay.
“This one game is not going to define us. … The sun’s going to come up tomorrow in Caledonia. We’ll lick our wounds tomorrow, and Monday we’re going to get back to work.”
Senatobia will face Columbia, a 12-7 winner over Poplarville on Friday night, for the 4A championship at 11 a.m. Saturday at Southern Miss.
Senatobia 34, Caledonia 27
Senatobia (12-2) 0 7 13 14 — 34
Caledonia (11-3) 6 14 0 7 — 27
C — Curtavis Johnson 3 run (kick failed), 10:07
C — Johnson 2 run (Reed Frady kick), 6:09
S — Jordan Osborn 13 run (Ben Thompson kick), 3:46
C — Darrius Triplett 67 run (Frady kick), 3:23
S — JaBrysten Abram 80 pass from Tyreese Hullette (run failed), 10:47
S — Hullette 5 run (Thompson kick), 2:36
C — Johnson 1 run (Frady kick), 9:57
S — Hullette 13 run (Thompson kick), 5:14
S — Osborn 36 run (Thompson kick), 2:11