When a team punts the football, the goal is always to down the ball as close to the goal line as humanly possible. That's no surprise. What might be a surprise is that the best example Prep Rally has ever seen of stopping the ball on the doorstep of the end zone came in a small Texas high school football game, and was turned in by an obscure junior with remarkable body control.
As you can see above, the Tomball (Texas) Concordia Lutheran High special teams unit knows how to get things done. After punter Mark Shroeder boomed a kick on fourth down during Concordia's game against Hitchcock (Texas) High, his coverage team raced down the field, only to see the ball still bouncing ahead of it.
That's when Dylan Cress exploded. After judging a bounce, Cress sent his body into warp mode, sprinted forward in full thrust, grabbed the ball just as it seemed destined to break the plane of the end zone and then miraculously stopped his momentum on a dime.
You can see another view of Cress' stop here, as seen from the end zone he was running toward.
The final part of that scenario might be the most impressive, too. It's almost impossible to overemphasize that Cress somehow went from a full-out, dead sprint to a complete stop with literally no room for error; if his toe had crept forward an inch, the punt would have been a touchback.
Instead, the ball was downed so far inside the 1 it was phenomenally difficult for Hitchcock to avoid getting a safety on its subsequent possession. And all those inches really did make a difference, as Concordia eventually escaped with a 28-21 victory.
Will Cress' miraculous stop always register as the best downed punt on record? Who knows. Still, no matter what comes, it will be hard for any team to get off a special teams play that has a more effective outcome than the one turned in by Concordia's unit.
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