As a result, Fredericktown spoiled the Bluejays' homecoming with a 15-8 win at Marshall Stadium on Friday night.
"It's a heartbreaker," said Charleston coach Al Marshall. "We battled to the wire."
Quarterback Justin Clark's throw into the corner of the end zone, intended for wide receiver Jerrell Quinn with 30 seconds on the clock, appeared to have been caught momentarily as Quinn leaped, then tumbled to the turf. The pass was ruled incomplete.
"All you've got to do is have possession when you come down because the ground can't cause a fumble," said Marshall, who admitted he didn't have a perfect view of the play. "It looked like he had it."
However, a Standard Democrat photo (see story photo) revealed the call was proper as Blackcat defensive back Mike Crowell (No. 13) got a hand on Quinn's arm to jar the ball loose.
Charleston scored early in the fourth quarter to set up the last-gasp march from its own 6-yard line. A sack and an incompletion preceded the would-be touchdown toss from the 25, then Clark was flushed out of the pocket on fourth down to end the threat.
The Bluejays, who fell to 2-4, lit the scoreboard at the 7:16 mark of the fourth period. A Fredericktown fumble led to a 40-yard drive capped by Clark's 14-yard strike to Quinn. Clark completed a key pass of seven yards to Matt Medlock and another of 14 yards to Quinn on the drive. The 'Jays converted a 2-point conversion on a Clark-to-Quinn pass play.
"They completed some passes at the end that had us worried," said Fredericktown coach Kent Gibbs, "but they've got great athletes and you've got to hand it to No. 2 (Clark), who's a great football player, and No. 40 (Quinn) and No. 12 (Medlock) got open.
"They did what they needed to do in that last quarter. They're down and they make a game of it by getting the first touchdown, then they're right down there ready to win the game with 30 seconds to go."
Fredericktown (6-1), while claiming its first win in nine meetings with the Bluejays, opened the game with a 62-yard drive to the Charleston 4 before the Bluejay defense stiffened, taking over on downs.
Charleston moved the ball effectively with running backs Joseph Watts and Jerquawn Sherrell doing the damage. The drive stalled at the Fredericktown 45, then the 'Jays punt was blocked by the 'Cats Nathan Stewart.
"That blocked punt was a big swing in momentum," said Marshall, playing for a field-position advantage.
Taking possession at the Charleston 40, Fredericktown scored in eight plays on tailback David Penwell's 3-yard dive.
A 2-point conversion pass ran the lead to 8-0 with less than three minutes gone in the second quarter.
Charleston continued to move the ball downfield on its second possession of the game but eventually bogged down at the Blackcats 35, as the half ticked away.
Fredericktown scored again with 4:13 to go in the third quarter on Penwell's 2-yard plunge, after a critical personal foul penalty against the 'Jays had set them up deep in the red zone.
"We did better, but we still had a personal foul that was a turning point in the game," Marshall said, of the Bluejays' tendency toward self-destructive penalties. "I want the guys to be aggressive but I think that was just uncalled for. I want them to be tough and ornery, but ornery, legally."
The point-after lifted the 'Cats to what proved to be an insurmountable 15-
"It's a big win for us from the standpoint that we're going into districts and we knew Charleston had a lot of good athletes on their team," said Gibbs. "It's nice to come down here and get a win. No doubt about that."
Charleston outgained Fredericktown 280-195 in total offense and held a 17
-12 edge in first downs.
Sherrell led the 'Jays ground attack with 99 yards and Watts chipped in with 59.
"Joe (Watts) is less than 100 percent playing with a torn meniscus," said Marshall. "He deserves a lot of credit."
Clark had a stellar passing night, completing 10-of-18 for 112 yards, while Quinn was the leading receiver with six catches for 85 yards.
Said Marshall, "Justin (Clark) stepped it up a notch tonight."
Charleston opens district play on Friday, hosting East Prairie.