November 27th, 2020

St. X wins thriller on Duddy's miraculous catch

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer

St. X wins thriller on Duddy's miraculous catch
The St. X defense wraps up Manual's Ja'Waun Northington. (photo by Eric Thorne)

Sometimes you are not the first or second option but as the third one Michael Duddy was the right choice as the St. Xavier wide receiver pulled in a 42-yard touchdown pass with 16.2 second left propelling the Tigers to a 10-6 win over Manual.

Staring at a 4th-and-21 and out of field goal range quarterback Giles Pooler stood tall in the pocket with the Crimson defenders closing in and hurled a perfect pass to Duddy at the goal line and the junior clutched it tight before stumbling and tumbling though the endzone.

“Still kind of shocking to me and hoped they called me in, but I knew I caught it and got both feet in but was afraid the ref wasn’t’ going to see it,” Duddy said. “I was trying to get and said, ‘did I just really make that play?”

“I was the only one open really open and it was just the most exhilarating play. I thought I better go celebrate with my team when they signaled touchdown because they are going to be happy.”

The Tigers (5-2) victory as coach Kevin Wallace exalted and heaped praise on the grit his team showed meant “we’re playing in December baby!”

With the win St. X advances to the KHSAA Class 6A regional final with a 7pm kickoff next Friday at North Hardin.

But it was not the final play that provided the final drama it was the entire final 17 play drive that began at the St. X 25-yard line with 4:45 to play. That drive included the Tigers converting a pair of fourth- down plays prior to the game winner.

That included a six-yard catch on fourth and five by Duddy, who two plays later let one go through his hands at the Crimson 20-yard line. Undeterred the coaching staff when right back to him with a five-yard completion that left them five yards short to set up fourth down.

“Mike has struggled this year and was really down on himself, and we have done all we could to keep his head up and get him back to where he was last year,” Wallace said. “Its gut wrenching but what does it say about a kid who drops that one and comes back to make the winning catch.”

However, Manual jumped offside giving the Tigers continued life and a march that continued. But a costly sack on Pooler dropped them out of field goal range, and a pass to Mekhi Smith was broken up in the endzone on third down. That set up the final shot.

“I was just supposed to be out of the way actually, but no one really covered me surprisingly and there I was with the ball coming my way,” Duddy said.

St. X led for much of the game including a miscue on the Tigers second drive when Duddy was called for a block on a defenseless player that negated a touchdown by Bennett Boehnlein. Instead they settled for a 42-yard field goal by Cameron Tegge.

Manual (3-2) took the lead at 6-3 with 5:58 to play the third quarter on a two-yard run by Ja’Waun Northington.

The Crimsons were driving midway through the fourth quarter when coach Scott Carmoday also went for a fourth-and-three giving it to Northington who was stopped short on a powerful hit by Anthony Woods.

Woods also saved a potential touchdown in the first quarter when he broke up a pass at the Tiger eight-yard line.

It was the fourth quarter stop by Woods that started the winning drive.

“It felt good to make that stop there and it was now or never,” Woods said. “All I saw was me and him and I said he’s not getting that first down and launched at him with all my strength. He wasn’t passing me.”

But both scoring drives and much of the Tiger offense would have not happened if not for the hardnosed rushing by senior running back Grant Goodman.

“This reminded me of the old (Coach Mike) Glaser football back in the day with the way we came out with me running it, and I have the bruises to show for it,” Goodman said. “I had him for class freshman year, and he kept telling me ‘you should be a running back, oh I you played in my day you’d be a running back.”

In fact, Goodman was option No. 1 or No. 2 on the winning heave to Duddy.

“We had Grant going underneath on a dig and told him if we had to throw it to underneath to him then look for someone to lateral it to and just told Michael to keep running deep down the middle and you aren’t the one coming back for the laterals,” Wallace said.  

Goodman, a converted receiver just wants to be on the field.

“Coach Wallace is a mastermind and when you move me out to receiver on that last play, I’m going to draw attention,” Goodman said. “Giles threw a beautiful pass and I just looked up and watched it sail over my head toward Duddy like I was staring at the stars and I kind of stopped breathing.”



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