In a game that featured a season's worth of trickery and unusual plays, the Homer Mariners defeated the Skyview Panthers 20-14 Saturday afternoon at Skyview High School.
Homer running back David Drake took a handoff from quarterback Jake Fraley, broke through a tightly bunched Panthers line, and scampered 60 yards for the winning touchdown with just 52 seconds left in the game.
The play came with the score tied 14 and overtime looking likely. A Skyview punt left the Mariners, whose offense sputtered most of the game, on their own 40-yard line with just 1:04 left on the clock. After Homer regained possession, head coach Terry Fraley called a timeout to talk things over with his team.
"They were playing us tight all game," Fraley said following the game. "I just told (the linemen) to widen their splits up a little."
With nine Skyview defenders near the line of scrimmage, the technique worked and Drake, the state's leading rusher, broke through the Skyview defense.
The dramatic run was Homer's first offensive touchdown in a game full of surprising turns.
Skyview got on the scoreboard first with a razzle-dazzle pass from senior quarterback Justin Rainwater to senior running back Mike Waer.
It started when Rainwater handed off to receiver Kevin McGrady, who took the ball and ran parallel to the line before turning and throwing back across the field to Rainwater. After catching the lateral, Rainwater then threw downfield to a wide-open Mike Waer who strolled into the end zone with the first score of the game.
Rainwater said the play was only recently added to the playbook.
"We just put that one in this week," he said.
That trick wasn't all the Panthers used, as Skyview tried several trick plays on the afternoon, including several flea-flickers and a hook-and-ladder.
"We threw everything we had at them," Rainwater said.
Despite the wide-open first half, the trick play resulted in the lone score of the first half, as Skyview went to the locker room with a 6-0 lead.
In the second half, Homer wasted little time in showing it could provide dramatics of its own.
A strong wind caused Skyview's kickoff to fall short of speedster Drake, and instead into the waiting arms of Adam Crum, a bruiser known more for his power than nimbleness. However, Crum managed to bounce several Skyview defenders off his 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame and find room along the sideline. From there, Crum showed Drake isn't the only Mariner who can run, lumbering 70 yards for Homer's first touchdown.
Crum was as surprised as anyone at his unexpected return.
Homer's Bryan Smith brings down Skyview's Trevor Tompkins as Tompkins catches a pass in the fourth quarter Saturday.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
"That's the first kickoff I ever returned in varsity," said Crum, a senior.
He said once he had the end zone in sight, he knew something had to be wrong.
"I looked back, because I just knew there was a flag," he said.
However, no penalty flags hit the ground, and Crum's touchdown tied the score just 13 seconds into the second half.
Drake ran in the two-point conversion to make the score 8-6.
Ten minutes later, with Skyview driving deep in Homer territory, Drake came up with his first big play of the afternoon.
Skyview completed a pass from Rainwater to senior receiver Kevin McGrady -- who beat Drake on the play -- down to the Homer 5-yard line. On third-and-goal, Rainwater looked again to McGrady. Only this time, Drake read the play perfectly, stepping in front of McGrady for the interception. Drake ran the interception back 99 yards to give Homer a 14-6 lead.
"David's just a special athlete," Fraley said.
However, despite being burned by two long plays in the quarter, the Panthers refused to give up. With 6:46 left in the game, Rainwater hit sophomore Logan McKay in the end zone with a 12-yard touchdown pass. Senior Trevor Tompkins barely crossed the goal line on the conversion, tying the game at 14-14.
Skyview's hopes improved further when quarterback Fraley was intercepted by Waer. However, Skyview's Rainwater was picked off less than a minute later, giving the ball back to the Mariners.
However, Homer was unable to capitalize, punting the ball back to the Panthers with 2:44 remaining. Skyview was unable to get anything going in its final possession, and it looked as though the teams would go to overtime when Skyview punted with 1:04 left.
But Drake had other ideas, and Homer spoiled Skyview's homecoming festivities with his 60-yard winning run.
Skyview coach Wade Marcuson said Homer's knack for making timely plays was the difference in the game.
"There were three big plays that killed us," he said. "The defense did a great job. The kids played hard. We just didn't get the bounces."
MARINERS 20, PANTHERS 14
Homer 0 0 14 6 --20
Skyview 0 6 0 8 --14
Skyview -- Waer 55 pass from Rainwater (kick failed)
Homer --A. Crum 75 kickoff return (Drake run) 11:47
Homer --Drake 99 interception return (run failed) 1:08
Skyview -- Logan McKay 12 pass from Rainwater (Tompkins run) 6:46
Homer -- Drake 60 run (run failed) 0:52
Rushes-yards 41-127 n/a
Passing yards 169 n/a
Return yards 65 n/a
Passing 9-24-4 n/a
Punts-avg 5-26.6 n/a
Fumbles-lost 0-0 n/a
Rushing -- Skyview: Waer 16-51, Rainwater 9-42, Nelson 6-20, Cleveland 3-5.
Passing -- Skyview: Rainwater 9-24-4-169.
Receiving -- Skyview: McGrady 6-82, Waer 1-55, Tompkins 1-20, McKay 1-12.
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