Sang’s last play interception clinches dramatic Kiwanis Bowl win for Coles

ASHLAND, Ky. – Rick Sang came down with an interception in the end zone on a jump ball last play to give Coles a 38-35 victory over Putnam in the simulated Kiwanis Bowl played at Putnam Stadium.

The game featured all-star Tomcats from the years 1952 to 1978 when the Kiwanis Bowl was played between Ashland junior highs. They merged to become Verity Middle School in 1979.

Sang was in a cluster of Broncos and Buccaneers trying to come down with Tommy Ferguson’s last-gasp pass from 30 yards out. Sang, Steve Curnutte and Mike Kimbrell battled for Coles while Monte Campbell, George Branham and Randy Elkins were doing their best to get their hands on the football for the Bucs.

Sang was the first to get touch it with his right hand and then clutched it tight with the left while tumbling to the ground. He was soon mobbed by teammates who had come running over from the sideline as the Coles band, sitting nearby, played the school fight song.

“The Kiwanis Bowl should come down to the last play and Rick Sang made us a winner with that grab,” said Coles coach Claude Blanton. “That Putnam bunch could play. What a great drive at the end of the game. We had a couple of hold-your-breath moments on that drive. I didn’t know what was going to happen when Tommy let that pass go.”

It was a tough loss for Putnam coach Jerry Clark, who had to console his players after the heartbreaker.

“We had our chances there at the end,” he said. “It wasn’t anybody’s fault. Tommy put it up there where anybody could have gotten it. Sang just had a little better angle and got his hands on it. He pinned us deep on a punt, but my guys came fighting back and nearly pulled this dang game out. I’m proud of ‘em all, I’ll tell you that.”

Coles had taken a 38-28 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter when Mike Gothard scored on a 7-yard run.

Putnam rallied to within 38-35 when John Radjunas connected with Elkins for a 24-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

Sang nearly broke the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown but was pushed out of bounds on the 47. The Broncos faced a fourth-and-two on the 32 but decided to let Sang try to pin the Bucs on a pooch punt, which he did, with the ball rolling dead at the 7.

With only two minutes remaining, it looked hopeless for Putnam.

However, Dick Fillmore got loose down the sideline for a 40-yard run to the 47 on the first play and Ferguson found Roger Webb for a 23-yard gain to the Coles’ 30 with only seconds remaining. He threw a pass to the end zone that Curnutte knocked away and then Sang came up with the pick on the last play of the game.

The teams were tied 21-21 at the half.

Each team had an early touchdown in the third quarter. Paul Hill’s 16-yard barreling run put Coles ahead 28-21 with Phil Walters kicking the extra point and then Steve Layman powered into the end zone on a 1-yard run to tie it up again for Putnam after Elkins extra point.

Coles capped off a 71-yard scoring drive with Terry Fish’s 27-yard field goal to lead 31-28 before Gothard’s touchdown put the Broncos ahead by 10 points.

Fillmore finished with 136 yards on eight carries and Herb Conley had 84 yards on 13 carries to lead Putnam runners. Gary Thomas rushed for 91 yards on seven carries and Joey Layman had 45 yards on only three carries for Coles.

Putnam’s Ferguson completed 7 of 12 passes for 76 yards while Radjunas and Greg Conley threw for 39 and 38 years, respectively. Scott Crank was 2 of for 27 yards for Coles.

Webb had three catches for 45 yards and Rob Queen had two catches for 27 yards.

Donna Childers was named the Kiwanis Bowl Queen at halftime.

PUTNAM JR. HIGH         14         7            7            7              –            35

COLES JR. HIGH               14         7            10         7              –            38


COLES-Steve Curnutte 30 interception return (Terry Fish kick)

COLES-Gary Thomas 13 run (Fish kick)

PUTNAM-Herb Conley 2 run (Randy Elkins kick)

PUTNAM-Dick Fillmore 14 run (Elkins kick)


PUTNAM-Monte Campbell 16 pass from Tom Ferguson (Elkins kick)

COLES-Pierre Harshaw 22 run (Fish kick)


COLES-Paul Hill 16 run (Phil Walters kick)

PUTNAM-Steve Layman 1 run (Elkins kick)

COLES-Fish 27 field goal


COLES-Mike Gothard 7 run (Phil Walters kick)

PUTNAM-Elkins 24 pass from John Radjunas (Elkins kick)

                            PJH                     CJH

First downs        30                       26

Rushes-yards     51-370               51-384

Passes                 10-19-1              5-9-0

Yards passing     125                     57

Fumbles lost      1                         1

Penalties            1-11                    0-0

Punts                  3-45.3                 3-45.3


Putnam rushing: Dick Fillmore 8-136, Herb Conley 13-84, Robert Wright 4-27, Robby Mahan 2-21, Steve Layman 5-18, Randy Rice 3-16, Tom Ferguson 5-14, John Radjunas 3-13, Greg Conley 2-10, Rick Smoot 1-10, Jay Shippey 2-9, Dick Vaughan 1-8, Dick McGuire 1-7, Jerry Bentley 1-2.

Coles rushing: Gary Thomas 7-91, Paul Hill 6-43, Joey Layman 3-45, Mike Gothard 7-38, Pierre Harshaw 4-37, Roger Gardner 3-28, Steve Curnutte 4-19, Richard Gardner 4-18, Tobey Tolbert 1-18, Jack Williams 7-13, Kendall Bocard 3-12, Richard Gardner 9-84, Scott Crank 7-61, Toby Tolbert 8-51, Pierre Harshaw 7-57, Robert Wright 5-20, Dave Hall 2-23, Steve Curnutte 1-10, Joey Layman 2-9, Joe Mantle 2-11.

Putnam passing: Tom Ferguson 5 of 12 for 76 yards yards (2 int.), John Radjunas 3 of 10 for 39 yards, Greg Conley 3 of 3 for 38 yards.

Coles passing: Scott Crank 2 of 4 for 27 yards, Chuck Anderson 2 of 3 for 19 yards, Steve Curnutte 1 of 2 for 11 yards.

Putnam receiving: Roger Webb 3-45, Monte Campbell 3-26, George Branham 1-10, Randy Elkins 2-34, JB Conley 1-10.

Coles receiving: Rob Queen 2-27, Rick Sang 1-12, Gary Thomas 1-11, Willie Thomas 1-7.

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