Blue Flame survive must-win game to earn playoff berth

By Rocky Nimmons

WILLIAMSTON — They say football is a game of inches, and that was never more true than it was Friday night as the Pickens Blue Flame collectively held their breaths when Palmetto Mustang kicker Francisco Cortez lined up to attempt a 46-yard field goal in the waning second of the contest.

If the ball found its way through the uprights, Pickens’ season would have come to an end, but if it didn’t, the Blue Flame would have earned their spot in the Class 4A playoffs.

The tension was at an all-time high as the teams lined up. Pickens had shown great heart all night, battling the Mustangs tooth and nail from start to finish, and it all came down to this one play.

Like something from a movie, time seemed to go into slow motion as the ball was snapped and Cortez made his approach. As it was kicked, all eyes followed it through the air. Going end over end, the ball was on path and it looked as if the Flame’s season was going to be over.

As the pigskin tumbled through the air and started its downward path, no one in the stadium was sure if it had the distance, and as it fell just inches short, the Pickens sideline erupted when the referees under the goal posts signaled no good, giving the Blue Flame a 29-27 victory and a fourth-place finish in Region I-4A.

“That was unbelievable. With everything that went against us, that was amazing,” Pickens head coach Chad Smith said after the game. “To have everything that happened and to fight through adversity and to beat a very good football team, it was amazing.”

The game was as close statistically as the finish indicated, with the Blue

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