PARKER — By all accounts, Pine Creek's second-half rally should have been enough to at least force overtime. But after scoring a touchdown to cut Legend's lead to one point, it all came down to the extra point attempt.
With the wind howling all day accounting for the gust became a factor as Jackson Issac's kick veered right to give Class 5A No. 7 Legend a narrow 21-20 win over 4A No. 3 Pine Creek.
"We want to give Pine Creek a lot of credit," Legend coach Monte Thelen said. "They were all the opponent that we thought they'd be."
That may not have appeared to be the case in the first half as the Titans (5-0 overall, 4-0 5A/4A Southern League) jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.
Kalen Shoemaker tossed touchdown passes to Carter Helfrich and Jackson Brush to build the lead and give Legend what turned out to be a much-needed cushion in the first half.
The biggest momentum shift in that span came as a botched Eagles (2-1, 2-1) toss send a squad of Titans after the ball and Caleb Bouldin came up with it. It wasn't long after that Shoemaker found Brush. Points off turnovers is certainly one way to beat a Pine Creek team that has been a state powerhouse for the better part of the last decade.
"There's no better feeling than that," Bouldin said. "Knowing that you changed the tide of the game and made that big of a play, it feels great."
Pine Creek made crucial adjustments in the second half which resulted in points on the board and a big swing of momentum. The Eagles were facing fourth down, going with the wind, and opted for a fake punt to generate some offense. It paid off and not long after, Josiah Roy found Beau Freyler for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
Roy found paydirt again later in the quarter, finding William Kea for a 13-yard touchdown pass. A once promising 14-point lead for Legend had been completely erased, but the Titans never allowed themselves to panic.
"We had to keep trucking, keep going and keep grinding," Shoemaker said. "It was nothing new to us."
The only problem is that the Legend offense wasn't getting as many chances to keep trucking. The Titans ran all of three plays in the entire third quarter, three runs to Connor Eise, and couldn’t generate any of the progress that was frequently made in the first half.
They needed just one big play and got it when Shoemaker found Brush for a 40-yard touchdown pass, his third of the game, with 9 minutes left in regulation.
"I was kind of hoping and praying it would happen, but not expecting it to," Shoemaker said. "I was expecting to put together a drive and put it in (that way)."
With newfound rhythm of their own, the Eagles were able to put together a methodical march down the field and Roy broke into the end zone on a one-yard run. That's when Issac's extra point missed.
The Eagles couldn't recover the onside kick and a few solid runs from Eise put the game out of reach, but not before Pine Creek showed its ability to hang with a top-notch 5A team.
"It means a lot," Shoemaker said. "They're the defending champs in 4A and they're usually a powerhouse. Coming out here and getting to play them actually gave us the first taste of blood in a regular season game."