Once in awhile, a play that starts in sheer disaster will end with brilliant results. Rarely has that case been more clear cut than on this miraculous touchdown reception by Lincolnton (N.C.) High School wide receiver Michael Cunningham, who pulled down a desperation pass from teammate Brandon Wilson and took it to the house in the Wolves' victory over South Point earlier this season.
As you can see in the clip above from VarsityNC.com (sent our way by alert North Carolina reader Larry Mathlage), Cunningham didn't just catch a pass; he performed his best Kirby Puckett imitation, bringing in a floating ball with his tiptoes in front of the sideline. Then he somehow wove through the entire South Point defense to score the third of his touchdowns in the game. Given the start of the play, the fact that Wilson was even able to get the pass off was a miniature miracle in itself.
"This is what high school football Friday night is about," Lincolnton coach Scott Cloninger told VarsityNC.com. "Both sides were full. The crowd was into it. And the play on the field was exciting."
Though the pass play only technically accounted for 22 yards of offense, Wilson actually released the ball all the way back at the South Point 46-yard line, and Cunningham made the reception nearly 10 yards behind the original line of scrimmage.
While you can't see the clock in this footage, the timing of the play couldn't have been much more dramatic, either. Cunningham reached the end zone with less than eight seconds remaining in the first half, with his touchdown pushing Lincolnton back into the lead heading into the break.
The drama didn't end at halftime. It would eventually take overtime -- and a gutsy call for a two-point conversion by Cloninger -- to give the Wolves a 43-42 win. Still undefeated, Lincolnton visits Statesville on Friday coming off its only bye week of the season.
- Michael Cunningham