Cottonwood High School wins football game in bizarre fashion

Oct 3, 2022, 12:21 PM | Updated: 12:55 pm
The Cottonwood Colts football team  (Courtesy of Deseret News)...
The Cottonwood Colts football team (Courtesy of Deseret News)
(Courtesy of Deseret News)

MURRAY, Utah – There are over 14,000 11-player high school football teams in the United States. Which means the ‘Friday Night Lights’ are turned on for over 7,000 games each week. 

Potentially every score and every possible ending would be on display at least once a season. But, Cottonwood High School’s game against Jordan High School had an ending that an official claimed he hadn’t seen in 29 years. 

Fair catch, free kick

Late in the fourth quarter, Jordan High School punted from their side of the field, hoping to maintain their 24-22 lead with less than 30 seconds left in regulation. 

To the surprise of everyone, except for the Cottonwood Colts, a fair catch was called for when the returner had plenty of room to potentially get into field goal range. But Cottonwood’s coach, Casey Miller, had another plan in mind.

Section 24 Article 3 of the NFHS High School Football Rulebook states, “A free kick is any kick which puts the ball in play to start a free-kick down. After the ready-for-play and before the kick, each player other than the kicker and holder for a place kick must be behind his free-kick line. A free kick is used for a kickoff, for a kick following a safety, and is used if a free kick is chosen following a fair catch or awarded fair catch.”

Cottonwood High School’s team had prepared for this moment in practice. So, instead of bringing out the offense, Cottonwood’s kicker Ryan Nielson was sent out onto the field with a tee. 

The games spectators, teams, and officials were all confused. So much so that the referees met for a few minutes before eventually deeming the move legal. 

With the game on the line, first-year kicker Ryan Nielson stepped up and drilled the kick.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Cottonwood Colts Official (@cwoodcolts)

“We’ve practiced this in practice. Our coach brought it up to us, he said ‘not many people know about it but we might have to bring it out one day.’ It ended up being worth it,” said Nielson “We knew exactly what to do, I was confident going into it, my team had confidence in me, and I stepped up and I knocked it down.”

The Colts went on to win the game, 25-24. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories


a man plays golf -- a study looked at weekday golfing...
Elizabeth Weiler

Weekday golfing has gone up thanks to remote working, study finds

If employees' productivity does not change, should employers care if they are golfing during the work day? 
10 days ago
Utah Valley University coach Mark Madsen directs his players during a basketball game against BYU a...
Mark Jones

Utah Valley University men’s basketball team has a winning culture

Utah Valley University men's basketball coach Mark Madsen joined Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson on Tuesday to discuss what made the team so successful this season.
16 days ago
The Utah Royals FC women's soccer team is returning to Salt Lake City.   And when they return, th...
Jessica Lowell

Utah Royals returning to Utah with policy assuring abortion for players

In a statement to KSL, the Utah Royals said they have a policy to cover any medical procedure that is not provided in the state of Utah.
17 days ago
BYU rover competition...
Ben McGonnell

BYU Men’s volleyball team wins against Ohio State

The BYU Cougars men's volleyball team faced off against the 15th Ohio State Buckeyes in a closely contested match.
19 days ago
salt lake city Olympics rings...
Adam Small

Salt Lake facing more competition for 2030 Winter Olympics

An Olympics official recently said there are five regions interested besides Sweden, meaning six total bidders -- including Salt Lake.
23 days ago
I continue to learn so much from my teenage sons. Last night was Ethan's final game of his basketba...
Amanda Dickson

Opinion: How to handle the final game of your child’s basketball career

The final game of my teen son's basketball career had me worried, but then taught me something amazing about attitude.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Cheerful young woman writing an assignment while sitting at desk between two classmates during clas...
BYU EMBA at the Marriott School of Business

Hear it Firsthand: 6 Students Share Their Executive MBA Experience at BYU’s Marriott School of Business

The Executive MBA program at BYU offers great opportunities. Hear experiences straight from students enrolled in the program.
Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a new winter activity? Try skijoring in Bear Lake

Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and gates.
Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five common causes of Cervical Cancer – and what you can do to lower your risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get ready for fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy.
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 easy Christmas dinner ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Cottonwood High School wins football game in bizarre fashion