Champion and Calallen Exchange Knockout Punches In Saturday Night's 49-42 Second Half Thriller
SAN ANTONIO, TX — I don't even know where to start with this one.
Boerne Champion and Calallen both came into this game 12-1. Something had to give, and the two teams fought tooth and nail until the final minute to make sure it was not them.
The game started off in a defensive stalemate. The first quarter ended halfway through the eighth possession of the game with no points to show for either team.
Calallen's defensive front of Luke Youngblood (6’4”, 310), Marcus Wiser (6’2”, 290), and Donovan Inglehart (5’11, 205) tore apart the Champion offensive line and never gave quarterback Luke Boyers a chance to think before he had to run for his life. Champion's spread offense never had an opportunity to utilize its matchup advantages on the outside, because Calallen's line never let them.
When the two sides flipped, Calallen's wing-t power run offense could not outrun Champion's bevy of defensive speed. Linebacker Sam Dillard, DB Bowen Fjord, and DL Landon Eades were too quick and talented for the Wildcats to evade.
Once the scoreless first quarter ended; however, all bets were off.
The teams combined for 91 points in the final 33 minutes of game time, but despite the offensive explosion, the defenses still played remarkably well.
8 of the 13 touchdowns were scored from 20 or more yards. Four of those were from 45 or more, and two of those were from 85 or more. And that doesn't include an 86 yard kickoff return or a fumble recovered in the end zone. It was complete madness.
Calallen was the first to score. They drove 81 yards down the field thanks in large part to a 60 yard completion to Grayson Leal that went down to the Champion 28. Running back Jeremiah Earls got his first touchdown of the night on a 26 yard run two plays later.
The Wildcats went up 14-0 after a Champion punt on the next possession. This time they went 57 yards after a late hit out of bounds on the punt return put them at the 43. The big play this drive was a 35 yard completion to tight end Stephen Paul on a play action pass down the seam to the Champion 16. Quarterback Jarrett Garza ran it in from the 2 yard line a couple plays later with 5:52 in the second quarter.
All night, both teams relied on big plays offensively. There were no drives with steady movement down the field, especially not for Champion.
The Chargers finally overcame the the Calallen pass rush on the next drive. Barely. They started at the 15 after a penalty on the kick return, and continued to go backwards on their first two plays. On 3rd and 14 from their 11, Boyers danced in the pocket until he saw a wide open Davis Pike who had gotten behind the secondary.
Boyers launched the pass deep as he was getting hit, and the ball was slightly under thrown, but it did not matter. No one was within 20 yards of Pike, and he raced towards the end zone for the 89 yard score. 14-7 Calallen with 4:16 in the second quarter.
Champion tied it up with under two minutes left before the half because of another wild play. Calallen went three and out and punted. Linebacker Riggs Barrett jogged onto the field to boot it away, but Champion's Landon Eades got a hand on it. The ball rolled slowly to the Calallen 29 for a net of only 4 yards.
Four plays later, on 4th and 5 from the 24, Champion called an inside rub route combination that resulted in Ryan Brandon, who was the third receiver on the right side, catching a wheel route down the right hash for a wide open touchdown with 1:41 in the second quarter.
The two teams went into the locker rooms tied at 14.
Calallen started with the ball out of the break and went 65 yard yards in five minutes and 37 seconds to retake the lead. A deep pass on third and long on the third play of the drive kept them alive, and two passes to Leal and Charley Hill picked up 22 and 20, respectively. Riggs Barrett, who was in at running back, powered his way in for a 3 yard run on 3rd and goal with 6:23 to play in the third.
The momentum was short lived, though, and sophomore Ryan Brandon returned the kickoff 86 yards to the house. This play was was met with boos from Calallen fans. Brandon had dropped to a knee at the 14 to pick the ball up, but the referees determined that his knee was back off the ground when he actually gained possession of it.
Regardless if it was the correct call or not, the touchdown stood, and the score was tied at 21.
Calallen got them right back with a 47 yard touchdown run by Earls. The Wildcats started at the 46 after a botched Champion onside kick failed to go 10 yards. Champion let up a first down before crushing Garza with a brutal hit for a sack back at the 47. Right after, though, Earls took off along the right sideline, broke a couple tackles, and scored. 28-21 Calallen with 3:51 in the third.
Once again, Champion benefited with a great return. Pike picked up a squib at the 27 and made it to the Calallen 35 before being tackled. Two plays later on 2nd and 9, Boyers kept a read option up the middle 34 yards to tie the game again.
That was the fourth touchdown in less than three minutes of game time.
The third quarter ended with Champion driving. Bowen Fjord picked off the same play action pass to Paul in the middle of the field that had worked earlier in the game and gave the Chargers the ball at their 45 with 1:51 in the third.
Champion converted a 3rd and 2 from the Calallen 47 on a pass to John Moreno in the flat. Moreno tip toed down the sideline to the 20, and Tamari Jenkins immediately followed it with a running back counter to the left side for a 20 yard touchdown to go up 35-28 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Both defenses actually made a stop on the next two possessions. Calallen punted on theirs, and Champion moved the ball 26 yards before Will Wallace missed a 33 yard field goal wide left.
Possibly the biggest play of the game came on the following Calallen possession. The Wildcats started at their own 20 with 5:26 to play in the game. Earls picked up 2 yards on first down, but a holding penalty made it 1st and 20 at the 10. Garza then dropped back to pass and was leveled again by the relentless play-maker Landon Eades.
The ball flew out of Garza's hands, and was recovered by offensive guard Ethan Clifton in the end zone. Clifton then also fumbled the ball, and this time Champion recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown.
The defensive score made it a two possession game even after the missed extra point try. Champion was now up 41-28 with 4:52 to play.
The touchdown turned out to be much better than a safety for the Wildcats, anyway. Instead of Champion keeping possession after getting two points, which would have made it a 9 point lead and still two possessions, the TD allowed Calallen's offense to try and cut it back to one score without needing a defensive stop.
Calallen took no time to do so, either. On their first play of the next drive, they whipped out a famous trick play. Lined up in a bunch set, Garza rolled to his right and sneakily handed it off to Earls at his spot directly behind the right tackle. Garza and company continued moving the the right as if the QB still had the ball while Earls sat in his stance motionless for a couple counts.
The entire defense was fooled, and Earls took off 69 yards untouched down the left side for a touchdown. It was 41-35 just thirteen seconds after the Charger fumble recovery.
The madness would not end, though. Champion started their next drive backed up at their four, because their return man was ruled down after signaling for a fair catch, muffing it, and picking the ball up at that spot.
This was Calallen's chance to get the ball back. Boyers was stopped after a gain of two on first down. Then, Tamari Jenkins was swallowed up by Iglehart and company for a loss of two back at the 4. Now 3rd and 10, Calallen pinned their ears back and blitzed.
Boyers evaded the rush, moved up in the pocket, and lofted a high arching pass down the field. Davis Pike had beaten his man to man defender, and, with no safety in the middle of the field, reached his hands out, caught the post, and raced 96 yards to the opposite end zone as the Charger sideline erupted.
Champion got two more points on a slant pass to make it 49-35 with 3:20 still to play.
But it was still not over!
Calallen marched 59 yards down the field to make it a one possession game once again. Champion was called for defensive pass interference on 4th and 11 which extended the drive and put them at the Charger 43.
Calallen went back to the play action seam on the next play, and Paul made it to the 8 yard line before a diving tackle tripped him up. Champion stuffed them on three straight plays to force another 4th down, this time from the 7 yard line. Garza rolled to his right and threw it back to Paul behind the line of scrimmage on the left side with blockers in front of him. Paul dove for the pylon and was in.
The touchdown came with 59 seconds left in the game and after Calallen had used all three of their timeouts.
All Champion needed to do was recover the onside kick and the game would be over.
That's exactly what they did. Jenkins fell on the ball, and Boyers took two knees to let the clock run out.
Boerne Champion 49, Calallen 42.
Champion will play 13-1 Marshall next week. Marshall beat undefeated Manvel 40-10 Friday night.
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