And then we skip right to the last two minutes of the fourth quarter. On the sidelines, Taylor is reminding his shaky team that this quarter belongs to them. Sounds like a nervous-making way to win games, but what I know about football would fit in this recap. And I'm having to spread it pretty thin, too. The score is 21-14 Tigers with 1:18 left on the clock as the announcer remarks that Voodoo hasn't been seen since halftime. "Bold move by Coach Taylor. Now we'll see how it's gonna turn out." It starts with an inspirational one-on-one between Taylor and Matt on the sidelines. "You can lead this team," Taylor says. "Lead them now. Bring it home."
The Panthers take up position on the 16-yard line. Matt calls the play, takes the snap, and passes to a Panther named Dolia, who's quickly forced out of bounds on the 32-yard line. The clock stops with 49.7 seconds left. For the next play, Smash is able to run the ball right another 14 yards before going out, and the Panthers get another first down. Then Smash runs left and advances the ball further yet, to the Tigers' 32-yard line. The clock stops with seven seconds left. The Panthers section is loving it, and I'm loving how this workmanlike, inexorable advance is such a thorough repudiation of Voodoo's showboating ways. Especially in the face of what must be a powerful temptation to go for a big, desperate play with so little time on the clock. The suspense stretches out as they get set up for the last play of the game. Smash takes the ball for a third time, and he heads left again. But the Tigers are onto him now, and he runs into a fierce clothesline. But wait! He's passed it off to Riggins, who runs right and, with the help of a nice block from Matt, carries the ball into the end zone. Woo! The Panther fans and cheerleaders freak out, while it's very quiet indeed on the Tigers' bench. The clock's at zero, the score's 21-20, and Dillon has a shot at an extra point. As the announcer says, "Dillon's going to be thrilled to get out of here with a tie." Or not.
Taylor calls in Matt and asks him to look at the field. "What do you see out there?" Matt turns, looks back, and says, "We got 'em right where we want them." Taylor asks what Matt thinks about going for two points, and Matt tells him, "Give it to Smash. He's been doing it all game." Taylor peers down through Matt's faceguard and sees nothing there but confidence. He asks for a play from Bud, who quickly supplies, "18 option." Whatever that means. Taylor sends Matt back out, telling him, "Git 'er done."
The announcer has his doubts about Taylor's decision to send Matt back in to go for the two-point conversion, but all he can do is call it. And then we're in slow motion as the boys get in formation. Close-up on Taylor's confident smile, and the announcer tells us, "You are looking at a man who is betting his entire career on one play." Taylor's smile falters. The man has his flaws, and clearly one of them is a susceptibility to hyperbole.