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Pitch and pass conversion sparks Canistota/Freeman rout

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Canistota/Freeman quarterback Trey Ortman fires a pass to Tyce Ortman (2) during the Class 9A state championship game against Howard at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. (Matt Gade / Republic) 2 / 2

VERMILLION—It was the impromptu flea-flicker that spread like wildfire.

Leading 14-6 after a touchdown pass from Canistota/Freeman's Trey Ortman to brother Tyce Ortman with 11:44 left in the first half, Trey Ortman handed the ball to dynamic running back Austin Thu for the two-point conversion. Thu was stopped at the 5-yard-line and turned back to the 10, before flipping the ball back to the quarterback Ortman.

Ortman, who would earn Joe Robbie MVP honors for the day, doubled back to the 15 before making a sharp throw on the run to the front-right corner of the end zone to a waiting Bailey Sage, who made the easy catch.

Two points earned the hard way, for the Pride.

The play blew the game open on the way to a 46-14 victory for Canistota/Freeman and it blew up on the internet. In the span of about four hours, the play had been viewed more than 540,000 times and had 92,000 likes on ESPN's SportsCenter Instagram account. On Twitter, the video had more than 1,000 retweets and 6,000 likes and was a nominee for the show's Top 10 list at the end of the day.

"He got stood up and I was right behind him," Ortman said. "It's a two-point conversion and there's nothing to lose so he threw it back to me and I found Bailey wide open in the end zone."

Canistota/Freeman head coach James Strang said the two-point play didn't work because it wasn't blocked correctly, but he was appreciative to have the big play in their column.

"It was big for us to get on top and once we got on top, we knew we could continue to roll forward," he said.

It capped a near-perfect performance for Ortman, who went 8 of 9 passing for 185 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for another score.

While the two-minute swing was capped with the two-point score, Howard made the big play to start it, stopping Canistota/Freeman on fourth-and-goal at the two-yard-line. The Pride forced a three-and-out, and on the next play, the Ortman to Ortman connection struck for 50 yards.

"Originally it was a run play, but I noticed something outside and Tyce gave me a signal," Ortman said.

Once down by double digits, the Tigers were forced out of their comfort zone, abandoning an evenly distributed three-pronged rushing attack and took to the air, which netted two completions and 26 yards all game.

"I wouldn't say always, but with this group, they like to have a lead so we can milk the clock," Howard head coach Pat Ruml said. "We can throw, too, but those guys were fast in pass coverage."