AURORA — With his team down a score and needing a to put together a big drive, Eaglecrest coach Shawn Marsh knew one thing for certain. If the Raptors scored, they were going for two.
Quarterback Khalil Howard put together hat was probably his most sound drive of the game and it ended with JP Luketu punching the ball into the end zone from a yard out. Luketu got the ball on the two-point conversion that had been planned on from the start. He fought his way into the end zone again and it was Class 5A No. 7 Eaglecrest getting a thrilling 43-42 win over rival No. 6 Grandview at Legacy Stadium.
“That was the craziest part of the game,” Luketu said. “If I don’t push this through, that’s the end of the game and we lose. That’s what kept me going, the thought of us losing.”
After a comeback win over Cherokee Trail last week, Eaglecrest (2-0 overall, 2-0 Centennial League) started this game by jumping out to a quick 14-0 lead thanks to a touchdown run from Luketu and a 46-yard touchdown pass from Howard to Seyi Oladipo.
And that’s when things started getting fun.
Grandview (1-1, 1-1) got on the board when Kahden Rullo picked off Howard and returned the ball for a touchdown. Moosah Alsaffar then broke for a 62-yard touchdown run to pull the Wolves even and seemingly change the dynamic of the game.
Through the course next three quarters each team had to show grit and resiliency as the two rivals exchanged the lead in the way heavyweight boxers exchange haymakers.
“Last year when we played them it came right down to the end,” Marsh said. “I think that’s an indication of a true rivalry game, when both teams compete against each other and these kids battle against each other. It’s fun football.”
Part of that fun was when the Raptors got a second touchdown run from Luketu to go up 21-14 only to lose that lead on two kickoffs, one in which they kicked the ball away and one where they received.
Evan Johnson took the kick from Luketu’s touchdown over 90 yards to once again pull the Wolves even. Then on the ensuing kick, Rullo ripped the ball away and put Grandview on top heading into the half. Things were changing in the blink of an eye.
And it didn’t stop in the latter quarters of the game.
Howard found Ty Robinson to tie the game. The Wolves regained the lead at 35-28 and held it until Howard broke for a 74-yard touchdown run to even things up once again. Howard quickly noted that the long run is going to result in breakfast for the big fellas that paved the way.
“That was all on them,” Howard said. “You just have to line up behind those big boys. They did their job.”
Alsaffar added another touchdown run for the Wolves before the resilient Raptors marched down for their game-winning drive.
With such a short road to go this season, Eaglecrest is greatly encouraged by the poise and determination they’ve shown over the last two weeks.
“We have heart,” Howard said. “If we’re down in the second half, we’re going to come back.”
That’s probably not a habit that Marsh wants his boys to get into for the remainder of the year, but if the Raptors keep playing games out the way they have the last two weeks, it’s certainly going to be an entertaining show for anyone in attendance.