The common cliche is "football is a game of inches".
Monticello learned that the hard way Friday night in the Region II Championship.
Jhalil Mosley's final second, Hail Mary heave was caught by Josh Malm in the endzone but the officials ruled Malm came down out of bounds, giving Kettle Run the 24-21 victory.
The Monticello players and sideline protested the call and some Kettle Run players reacted to the play as if Malm came down in bounds but the Cougars walked away Region II Champs.
"It looked like a great play," Monticello coach Rodney Redd explained. "All the kids said it was a great play. You hate to be in a situation where someone has to make that call to determine the outcome of the game."
The Mustangs found themselves in a 17-0 hole at halftime but came out of the locker room on a mission.
TJ Tillery scored on a 10-yard touchdown run to cut it to 17-7, then the Mustangs recovered a Kettle Run fumble on the very next possession.
A few plays later Mosley ran it in himself. The extra point was no good, but the Mustangs were back within 17-13.
After another Cougar touchdown made it 24-13, Tillery added another scoring run. The two-point conversion was no good, however, and the Mustangs trailed 24-19 with nine minutes remaining.
The Cougars then drove the length of the field, even converting a 3rd and 22, but missed a field goal to give Monticello a chance to take the lead.
The Mustangs would give the ball right back, however, as Mosley was intercepted at the Kettle Run five on a jump ball to Alex McNair.
The Monticello defense stiffened and forced a Cougar punt in their own endzone. Kettle Run elected to take a safety, bringing Monticello within 24-21 and leading to the controversial final play of the contest but afterwards, Redd chose to focus on his team's determination in the second half.
"I want to focus on how these young men came back out there and focused and fought back and played the type of football we're capable of playing."