Miracle at Pribil: catch secures semifinal game

Luke Wienecke, Co-Editor

Down by one, on their own 20, with two minutes and 30 seconds left, senior Cole Limber took his stance flanked out on the right side of the field. This was the now or never drive, the chance to score and ultimately punch the ticket to the state championship. 

Staring down a third and 15, the Irish needed a big play, and they needed it quickly. Senior quarterback Luke Tarman took the snap, and dropped back, the offensive line allowing him just enough time to get the ball out. As he released the ball, time seemed to stop.

On this crucial play, Tarman drew on the chemistry he’s always had with his top receiver: Limber.

“Since freshman year we’ve been on the same page, and we’ve been playing together for six years now,” Limber said.

But this duo’s season hasn’t been without its challenges. Limber injured his elbow early this year, sidelining him for three weeks. Despite that, he has still managed to put up huge numbers.

“So yeah, the injury did suck, but I look back on it because I lead 5A in receiving by over 200 yards, and I’ve missed three games really, and I’m 13th in the state in receiving yards, no matter what class,” Limber said.

If the injury, the playoff run, and the countless summer hours spent running were the rising action, then the final drive on December 4th, Friday night, was the climax. 

Tarman flung the ball as far and as high as he could, trusting that Limber could make the play. As the ball hung in the air, and the whole crowd took a collective breath, Tarman and Offensive Coordinator Ryan Stringer thought the same thing.

“Cole was going so fast, and I released it a little late,” Tarman said. “It would have had to be like a 65-yard pass to hit him in stride. I threw it like 55 yards but it was way too high. So I released it, I was like, oh no. That might be the game.”

Stringer held his breath as the ball spiralled toward Limber. 

“I was just thinking bat it down Cole, bat it down,” Stringer said.  

But while most were thinking about avoiding an interception and getting one more shot at it, Limber had different ideas.

“I had never heard a silence like that in a game ever, and it just goes dead silent,” Tarman said. “And I can’t see, and I’m like ‘oh no, I think the game’s over, and I just hear the loudest eruption.’”

Limber snagged the ball from two defenders, coming down with it for a 50-yard gain, keeping the season alive. Just two plays later, Limber caught the game winner from 15 yards out, having racked up eight catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns on the night.

Limber was voted The Oklahoman Player of the Week for his performance, and the Irish head to the state championship to play Rival Carl Albert. Always on the same page, Tarman and Limber had identical responses when asked about the all too familiar 5A state championship matchup: “They’re due for a loss.”