It was far from a masterpiece, but the Kilgore College Rangers may have saved their season Saturday night with a 17-15 win over New Mexico Military.
The Rangers, backs against the wall as far as getting into the Southwest Junior College Football Conference's playoffs, needed a win to keep pace with the conference's top four teams -- only the top four get into the postseason tournament.
Leading 17-15 in the final seconds of the game, with New Mexico Military driving, the Rangers got just what the doctor ordered: a fumble by the Broncos, and a recovery by KC linebacker Troy Burnett, with just four seconds left to play.
KC knelt out the four seconds and celebrated on what had been its hall of fame weekend, where the 2017 inductees were honored earlier in the day, and again at halftime.
The win was far from pretty -- the Rangers scored all 17 of their points in the first half -- but it did even KC's record in conference play to 2-2, and overall record to 3-3. The Rangers are currently fifth, with Tyler, Blinn, Trinity Valley and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in the four spots, currently.
KC needs to win its remaining games (starting with Navarro in Corsicana next Saturday) and will have to hope for one of those four teams to stumble. KC lost a close game to Blinn already, and lost at NEO last week. But the Rangers have yet to play Trinity Valley and Tyler -- those games are on the horizon.
The Broncos, only in their second year in the conference, had problems in the first half holding onto the football. A fumble led to KC's first touchdown, a 1-yarder by quarterback Jacob Frazier.
Rangers defensive back Morgan West got an interception that led to another KC score, this one scored by DeMarcus Smith on a 7-yard run. KC led 14-0 in the first quarter.
Shortly before the half, the Rangers added one more score, a 41-yard field goal by Jose Goite.
New Mexico began chipping away -- slowly -- at KC's lead in the third quarter. A penalty in the end zone gave the Broncos a safety, and KC still led 17-2.
They added six more points on the Broncos' next drive, a 29-yard pass from Cody Frampton to Raekwon Webb. The extra point was missed, but the Broncos trailed 17-8.
Things really heated up when NMMI scored yet again, on a pass from 15 yards out to Bryndon McCoy. That was set up when the Broncos tried a fake field goal that didn't work, but KC was flagged for a roughing-the-passer foul, giving the Broncos a first down -- they scored the touchdown moments later, and trailed by just two, 17-15.
KC, trying to run off clock, caught a break in a tough way. Roger McCuller, who started the season as a quarterback, but has also been used as a tailback, was in to punt for the Rangers and was hit by NMMI special teammers, a roughing-the-punter call with just over three minutes left. The Rangers were able to run more time off the clock.
Finally, NMMI did get the ball back with just over two minutes left, but KC's Edward Hayes sacked the quarterback, and on what would be the final play of the game, Quinton Edney knocked the ball free, allowing Burnett to recover and the Rangers to seal the win.