RADFORD — With just 8 seconds left in Friday’s homecoming football game against visiting Gretna, things were looking extremely dim for the Radford Bobcats.
The game was tied and the Hawks were lining up for a potential 19-yard game-winning field goal — a shorter distance than the two extra points that had already been converted.
The attempt sailed wide right, however, and Radford (3-0) benefited from another missed kick in the first overtime period.
Gretna (2-1) opened with a touchdown, only to miss the extra point.
Radford junior kicker Conner Lytton nailed his team’s PAT after the Bobcats scored on their first OT possession, giving them a 21-20 victory.
Radford sophomore Darius Wesley-Brubeck powered the game-tying touchdown from 10 yards out on the Bobcats’ first play of overtime. He finished with 78 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
Gretna senior running back Jorden Berger finished with 186 yards on 23 carries, including a 70-yard touchdown run early in the second half that tied the game at 14.
The Hawks dominated Radford in the box score, finishing with more than 330 rushing yards and outgaining the hosts by nearly a 2-to-1 margin in total offense.
Several drives stalled in Bobcat territory, however, and Radford’s defense came up with the necessary plays in the fourth quarter and overtime.
The game was tightly contested throughout, as Gretna jumped out to a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter only to see Radford tie it up with a little more than 2 minutes left in the half.
Each team scored on its first possession of the second half before the defenses locked down and kept the game scoreless until overtime.
Close games are the norm for these two teams, who have played six times since 2009, with each side winning three times and none of the contests being decided by more than 13 points. Radford won the regular season meeting between the teams last year 7-6.
“This was a hard-fought, physical game between two teams that are familiar with one another,” Radford coach Matthew Saunders said. “I thought we had a little advantage in the special teams, we almost ran a kickoff back and Connor is one of the better kickers in the entire state of Virginia.
“We talking about bending not breaking on defense and not giving up too many big plays, which we did a good job of. Our plan on offense was to go right at them and I thought we did a good job of that as well.”
Lytton, who was met by a huge group of students who rushed the field after his game-winning kick, said the kick was his second career game-winner but the stakes weren’t quite as high the last time.
“I didn’t really have any nerves,” he said. “I was confident that I would get the job done. It felt amazing.”
Gretna coach Cole Simpson said he didn’t have any regrets about kicking the field goal from the goal line at the end of the game.
“I know people might question the decision but I have no regrets and would do the exact same thing if we had the chance again,” Simpson said. “I thought our lines on both sides of the ball played really well tonight and we just fell a little short there at the end.”