Ensworth receiver makes ultimate catch in last high school game

Sunday, December 12, 2010 at 10:05pm
Jude Ferrara/SouthComm 

It wasn’t the first time his number was called, but it might have been the last. If so, David Dingess picked a heck of a way to go out.

With seven seconds left in the Division II-AA state championship game against Chattanooga’s Baylor School on Dec. 7, the Ensworth wide receiver went up and snagged an 11-yard pass from Tigers quarterback Drew Parker for the game-winning touchdown. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Dingess, a 6-foot-5, 195-pound senior, was battling two Baylor defenders, both of whom had their hands on the ball. And Parker had lofted the pass to the right corner of the end zone, so his receiver was quickly running out of real estate. 

Dingess, though, leapt up over the two defenders, grabbed the ball at its highest point and landed with both feet on the green grass. The three players involved tumbled to the ground; replays showed them all wrestling for possession of the ball. By rule, if more than one player catches the ball, the “tie” goes to the offensive player. The back judge didn’t hesitate and quickly signaled a touchdown. 

“It was a really amazing feeling when it was called a touchdown. I wasn’t really sure if I had it or he [Baylor cornerback Jacob Huesman] had it or we both had it,” Dingess said. “Drew threw it up, and it was a pretty good ball. I knew I had to go make a play on it.”

It was Dingess’ second catch of the game and arguably the biggest of his career, capping off a huge Ensworth rally. The Tigers came from 14 points down to edge Baylor 28-21 and win the first state football championship in the school’s seven-year history.

Two weeks before the state championship game, the Ensworth wide receiver kept the Tigers’ title hopes alive. In a semifinal against Brentwood Academy, using the same route that he ran in the state title game, Dingess caught a 45-yard pass from Parker on a third-and-37. Yes, that’s right, a third-and-37. It wasn’t any old third-and-37, either. Ensworth was on its own 8-yard line with just over two minutes left in the game, down by six. A couple minutes later, the Tigers scored on Corey Batey’s 12-yard touchdown catch to finish off another comeback and win 20-19. Even so: 

“I think the touchdown catch was probably the biggest,” the 18-year-old Dingess said. “The third-and-37 didn’t win us the state title.”

Dingess wrapped up his senior year with 31 catches for 560 yards and three touchdowns. He moved over from tight end after the second game and was second on the team in receptions and yards. For the three-sport athlete — he also plays basketball and baseball — the future is unclear. He is not sure which school he wants to attend or which sport he’ll pursue. He is interested in Texas Christian University and Samford. 

“I guess I could have the opportunity to walk-on anywhere in all three sports,” he said. “Usually the favorite sport is the season I am in. … I think in college it would probably be baseball or football. I can’t really decide between those two.” 

Coach Ricky Bowers, who is also the boys basketball coach at Ensworth, said Dingess has the skills to play football at the next level. 

“He is smart. He has great hands. He is competitive, and he is very tall,” Bowers said. “So that is a pretty good combination.” 

For now, it remains to be seen whether that touchdown will be Dingess’ last catch. 

“That would feel pretty cool,” he said. “That would be pretty cool to have the last one be a game-winning touchdown pass.”

Even if it isn’t, the grab won’t be jarred loose from his memory.

“It will probably pop in my head once or twice a day,” Dingess said. “I’m pretty sure it will for the rest of my [time in] high school and probably for the rest of my life.”   

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2 Comments on this post:

By: AT on 12/13/10 at 6:20

... sorry, but the game winning reception was not *exactly* as you described the catch. Baylor defenders caught the ball. The Ensworth receiver muscled it away in the pile after the catch. I have THE PICTURE that proves this. Seeing is believing. I was at the game. The game should have gone into overtime, but the refs blew the call. It was even called an interception by one of the officials in the end zone, but his call was ignored. It's interesting that the reply on the live game video on public TV showed the Ensworth receiver stepping out of bounds running down the sideline, negating any possibility of a reception. Yet the Back Judge signalled a touchdown even *before* the receiver and/or defenders came down with the ball. Unfortunately, close calls and missed calls are part of the game. That said, it was a tremendous game between two great teams. Ensworth and Baylor played hard and deserve all the credit they are due. Congratulations to both teams!

By: Pecos1 on 12/14/10 at 5:52

AT, you are incorrect in a number of statements. While the ball is in the air the Baylor defender, Jacob Huesman (Mr. Football in D2 AA) got his hands on the ball first, but it was taken away from him by Dingess. When they landed there may have been dual possession, but in football the tie goes to the offense. This happens often in football and it is well settled that the offense wins. The picture on the front page of the Tennessean last week clearly shows dual possession in the air. By the time they were untangled Dingess had sole possession. The referees signaled TD immediately. Both of them signaled and there was never a signal for interception.

There is a lot of footage of this play from many angles and none of it shows Dingess stepping out of bounds. In fact, most of it confirms that he was definately in-bounds.

Referees do sometimes miss calls. However, in this instance all the evidence clearly supports that they made the right call. If you will take the time to look at the numerous photos and video on all the websites you will agree, unless of course you are just upset by the outcome, and in that case you can believe what you want. It will not change anything.