100 Years of Football: Central’s 4 OT Heartbreaker

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) When 48 minutes of high school football isn’t enough to decide a state champion, you go to overtime. Or in Central High School’s case, you go to four. 

That’s right. One of the most thrilling state championship games in Indiana football history was decided in four overtimes.  The 4A State Championship game between Central and Fort Wayne Dwenger in 2018 marked the longest a championship game had ever gone in IHSAA history.  

“I was kind of getting to the point where I didn’t think it was ever going to end. I really wanted it to be over with.”

After regulation, neither team had scored a single point. It may not have been pretty, but to football purists, it was beautiful.

(Troy Burgess – Former Central Head Coach)“A lot of people look at that that aren’t football people, and think, ‘what a boring game. Zero to zero after regulation.’ To guys that love football, that was a beautiful game man. It wasn’t sloppy.

The stalemate continued into the second overtime, where Central scored a field goal to get on the board. 
The Saints answered with a field goal of their own, taking us to a third overtime. That’s when both teams scored their first touchdowns, but they were still knotted at 10. It took until the fourth overtime, when Bishop Dwenger’s TJ Tillman took a 9-yard run in for a score to seal a 16-10 victory over the Bears.  It was a crushing defeat after eight quarters of football. And although the Bears came up empty handed, no one could argue they left everything on the field. 

(Burgess)“We didn’t go there to lose, but with that said, we also had a job to do as coaches to make sure those guys understood just how special that moment was. We still had to go through the medal ceremony. We still had to go through pictures. What I wanted our guys to understand was, enjoy it.”

(Brennon Harper – Former Central Quarterback)“I didn’t have any regrets. There were definitely some decisions I would’ve changed if I could’ve, looking back on it. But all in all, I was just so drained mentally, physically and emotionally. So it was kind of a relief it was over, even though it was the way we wanted it to be over. You can’t have any regrets; I left it all on the field. I think the whole team did.”

It was a game for the ages. And now that the dust has settled, Burgess can look back on that memory with fondness knowing it was the greatest game of his career.

Reporting from Evansville, Blake Sandlin, Eyewitness News. 

(This story was originally published on October 12, 2021)

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