COLORADO SPRINGS — For the briefest of moments, it looked like senior night for Hayden Cooper was going to end on a missed field goal. But as the ball sailed wide of the goal post, The Classical Academy realized it had been saved by a whistle.
Elizabeth had called a timeout.
With two-tenths of a second on the clock, his second attempt was good giving Class 2A No. 10 TCA a thrilling 10-9 over No. 8 Elizabeth.
“I was thankful I got that extra kick in,” said Cooper. “I was so dialed in and ready, I just wanted to make that so bad.”
Cooper said that one of the Elizabeth players was screaming Cooper’s number leading up to the kick.
“That boosted me,” said Cooper. “That made me want to make it even more. So many things were going through my head but when that snap went off, everything was dialed in. It was great.”
Prior to Cooper’s made field goal, Elizabeth (5-2 overall, 2-1 2A Tri-Peaks) had been called for a penalty, which moved the ball up to the 26-yard line. Penalties played a large role as both teams accrued more than 50 yards each due to penalties.
“I don’t know what happened today,” said Titans head coach Justin Rich. “I don’t know if we were sloppy or weren’t clean. We probably were but we can’t have penalties like that and win so we’re lucky to get out of this one, but I can’t explain the flags.”
Coming into tonight’s game, Cardinals senior quarterback Vincent Weber had 546 passing yards and 250 rushing yards. The Titans’ defense was able to keep Weber quiet, with Elizabeth’s only touchdown coming on blown coverage.
“We just wanted to stay in coverage,” said Rich. “(We wanted to) be really strong on the edge and try to get (Weber) to pitch or string it out and I think we did that all night too. He’s good, I think defensively we executed everything that we wanted to execute, and we gave them a field goal and had a busted coverage.”
That led to Elizabeth taking a late 9-7 lead even with a defensive effort that the Titans (5-2, 3-0) were generally pleased with.
“Our defense altogether, we played great,” said Cooper, who had an interception just before halftime. “I wish we could have kept the penalties to a minimum, that really hurt us a lot. But overall we did great just pinning them in and keeping them from getting big yards.”
Rich praised his team’s resilience, saying that they could have given up toward the end of the game.
“We gave up a score late, they could have given up there," he said. "We were 4th and long, they could have given up, then we got a 1st down. This group has shown all season that they believe and they’re going to try to find a way to win and they got it done. I couldn’t be prouder.”
The win puts TCA in control of the Tri-Peaks league ahead of next week's road game against defending 2A champion La Junta.