Batsell's end zone interception saves Panthers' title hopes

Monroe City’s Nehemiah Batsell goes up to make an interception over Valle Catholic’s Carter Roth as the Panthers’ Zach Osborn watches the play unfold during Saturday's Class 1 state championship game at Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo. | H-W Photo/Phil Carlson
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 25, 2017 10:25 pm Updated: Nov. 26, 2017 1:29 am

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- For one second, the football was in Ste. Genevieve Valle wide receiver Tyler Blum's hands.

The next second, it was in Monroe City defensive back Nehemiah Batsell's hands.

The outcome of Saturday's Class 1 state championship game at Faurot Field swung on one play early in the fourth quarter.

Valle was trailing 12-7 and facing a fourth down and goal from the 4-yard line when Mason Skaggs threw a ball into the right corner of the end zone for Blum, who appeared to have caught the ball. However, Batsell ripped the ball out of Blum's hands and came down with it in the end zone.

Instead of a Valle go-ahead touchdown, Monroe City got the ball on a touchback.

"I didn't see (the ball)," Batsell said. "I just saw (Blum's) hands. I saw his hands go up and just snatched the ball out of his hands."

It saved Monroe City's championship hopes on the way to a 12-7 victory.

Batsell, however, wasn't sure if the referees agreed with the play he made. The dual possession of the ball as both players came down to the turf made it a tricky call.

"After I took it from him, I was scared cause I didn't know if they were going to say he came down with it," Batsell said. "I just wanted to make a big play for the seniors."

After two referees briefly met, they signaled a touchback.

"I saw the ball go to the corner and saw it was jumbled," Kirby said. "I saw Nehemiah come up with it, and it's signaled for a touchback. I'm just thinking, ‘Holy Cow, we just got the ball back. Let's go finish this thing.' "

Monore City did by killing more than eight minutes off the clock before Valle took over after a turnover on downs. An interception by Dawson Shively with 26 seconds remaining sealed the championship.

Batsell finished with two interceptions and had 39 return yards.

He wasn't even on Monroe City's roster during the Panthers' run to last year's state title game.

"It means a lot," Batsell said. "I wasn't here last year. The guys on this team help me keep my head level, and they did it again tonight. I just wanted to put my heart out there on the field."