AURORA — Down a score and half the field away from the end zone, the odds seemed stacked against Eaglecrest on Friday night.
But since Week 1 this year, the Raptors have battled against the odds. This was no different.
Quarterback Dylan James rolled to his right and let the football fly to the end zone. It found just one of Ty Robinson's hands, but that's all that was needed. The offense immediately took the field again for a two-point try, which was successfully converted.
Eaglecrest held its first lead of the night with 24 seconds left in the game, and it would hold. The Raptors toppled rival Grandview 36-35 in a game that felt every bit like a playoff battle from the emotions, to the weather, to the thrilling nature of the comeback.
“We just had the momentum going," Raptors coach Garrett Looney said. "It was a great play call at the right time. I told the coaches at halftime that if we were in that position, we were going to go for two and that’s what we did. We’re behind the best o-line in the state and we needed two yards. We got them.”
It was the Class 5A No. 4 Wolves who started fast in the game. Jordan Billingsley broke for a 46-yard touchdown run to put Grandview (5-1 overall, 0-1 East Metro) up 7-0. James countered with a 67-yard touchdown run of his own and it looked like the ground game equivalent of a shootout was on.
The Wolves held defensively for two drives and converted on offense. Noah Schmidt found the end zone twice to push the lead to 21-7, putting the No. 5 Raptors (6-0, 1-0) in a position where they were going to have to battle back.
But that's been nothing new for Eaglecrest.
Going back to Week 1, the Raptors have felt like they've been getting knocked down all season. But with each blow they've taken, they've continued to get up.
“At the beginning of the year we fought adversity," Robinson said. "We got up and kept fighting. Tonight, we fought adversity, We were down three touchdowns. We fought together and we stuck it out together."
Friday night's version of adversity had them in a 35-21 hole in the second half. They found the end zone twice, including James' third rushing touchdown of the night to cut the Grandview lead to seven points. By the end of the night, James rushed for over 270 yards.
“He’s just a playmaker," Looney said. "He makes plays all the time. He drives me crazy sometimes when he doesn’t make the right reads, but he’s so dynamic of an athlete and he did a great job.
And then the defense, led by a gritty defensive line stood tall and got the ball back for its dynamic offense. With time running out, the Raptors were able to move the ball in small chunks, but faced a 4th and 15 situation at midfield.
“We needed to score," Robinson said. "Coach called all go. I knew when the quarterback rolled out and looked at me, I knew in my mind I had to make a play.”
James saw Robinson sprinting down the field and let the ball fly. He watched as it hung in the air, seemingly forever.
“It was hanging up there for a little bit," James said. "But I knew he was going to catch the ball and he came down with it. It was amazing.”
Robinson hauled it in and Looney sent the offense right back out. Behind the bulky o-line that includes to Division I commits in Jake Wiley and Bear Miller.
They plowed the road and Isaiah Emecheta punched it in. And at the end of an emotional rivalry game where the Raptors had once again been knocked down, they overcame adversity.
In 2018, it's what the Eaglecrest Raptors do.