CHAPEL HILL — With 2.7 seconds left in a scoreless game, quarterback Garrett Cloer hit Ky-Jzir Muller for a 55-yard touchdown to beat the Chapel Hill Tigers 8-0 and preserve Orange’s perfect record.
It was all Muller could do after the game to hold back tears. In the postgame huddle and while walking to the team bus, teammates congratulated him. Muller continued to cry tears of joy over the play that kept his team undefeated.
Facing fourth down on their 45, Muller was able to create just enough separation down the middle of the field to catch the ball inside the Tigers 20, break away from the defender, and ran toward the left corner of the end zone to score with no time left.
“He happened to get open and made the play. That’s what a good team does, they keep fighting,” said Cloer. “Ky-Jzir’s a heck of a player. He was able to break that tackle.”
Orange (8-0, 4-0 Big Eight 3A) stopped Grant Deselm and Chapel Hill (3-5, 2-2) with a minute left. On fourth-and-6, the Tigers punted, pinning the Panthers at their 15. Cloer hit Patrick Pettiford Jr. for 12 yards, and runs by Michael Bolden and Tay Jones moved the Panthers close to midfield.
“Very good teams will lose a game somewhere on their schedule and it will refocus them. We were fortunate enough to come out of here with a win, and this is going to refocus us. I guarantee you that,” said Orange coach Pat Moser.
The Panthers came in with an average winning margin of 38 points per game.
Deselm threw for 112 yards on 10-for-26 passing and two interceptions.
Orange allowed just 62 yards of offense during the second half, and just 3 yards on the ground. Brandon Vanhook and A.J. Bradsher each picked off Deselm passes after halftime, resulting in two of the three interceptions by the Panthers. Collin Page had his during the second quarter.
“Chapel Hill deserved a chance of winning,” said Moser. “They played extremely well.”
Moser had equally high praise for Muller and his amazing play.
Muller’s “a great kid. He’s worked really hard. For him to catch the game-winner for us is great,” Moser said. “When a kid works as hard as he has in the offseason, and when good things happen, I think that’s why he was in tears. He has seen the hard work and dedication that he’s giving to Orange County High School pay off.”
Wildcats, Jags, Chargers fall
At Durham County Stadium, despite injuries to several key Wildcats, East Chapel Hill (1-7, 0-2 PAC-6 4A) prevented a shutout with a 5-yard touchdown pass from third-string quarterback Sean Moore to Ty Woodard with 2.3 seconds left in a 42-6 loss to Northern Durham.
In Burlington, Carrboro (4-4, 1-1 Mid-State 2A) fell 37-20 at Cummings, which avenged last year's playoff loss at Carrboro.
At Southern Durham (6-2, 4-0 Big Eight 3A), Northwood quarterback Ti Pinnix punched in a score from 1 yard to give the Chargers (6-2, 2-2) a chance to tie their shootout with 36 seconds left. But the Spartans broke up Pinnix's two-point pass attempt to preserve a 56-54 win.