Terms like “Game of the Year” and “Game of the Century” are often tossed about when fans talk about exciting football games, but for the young men on the field for the Duncan football team, Friday night’s game will more than likely be called, “The Game of a Lifetime.”
Eight-man football, due to the reduced number of players on the field, is usually a game of quick action, lots of passes and big runs. It is also a game with lots of room for team and personal improvisation.
Duncan and Region 1A South rival Baboquivari had battled to a 26-22 score with the Wildkats on top with 4:09 left in the final quarter. Then, starting at their own 28-yard line, the Warriors put together at 72-yard, 13-play drive that put the Warriors up 28-26 with just over nine seconds remaining in the contest.
Many in the Duncan stands had stood up, prepared to shuffle out of the stadium, but in a matter of moments they would have an entirely different reason to be on their feet.
With 9.5 seconds left on the scoreboard clock, Baboquivari lined up to kickoff to the Wildkats. Instead of an onside, pooch kick, the Warriors kicked away, most likely sure this game was in the bag.
Duncan Freshman Isaac Harris fielded the kick at about the 35-yard line and started up the side line in front of the Wildkats’ bench.
The Warriors’ pursuit closed in on Harris before he reached mid-field.
This is where improvisation began and the “Game of a Lifetime” took over.
With the majority of the Warriors in his face, Harris stopped, turned and tossed a lofty lateral back to sophomore quarterback Diego Montoya.
Montoya used the Warriors’ over-pursuit of Harris to find a clear path to the end zone. As Montoya glided, seemingly untouched toward the end zone, game time elapsed.
With 00-00 on the clock the scoreboard now read 32-28.
Montoya soon found himself buried beneath a dog pile of his Wildkat teammates.
And suddenly nobody was in a hurry to leave the stadium.
Although the outcome of the game was decided in a matter of the final moments, it had been and exciting contest from the beginning.
In the first quarter Baboquivari turned the ball over deep in their own end of the field and the Wildkats wasted little time in capitalizing on the good field possession with sophomore Carson Potter finding pay dirt from 15-yards out, 6-0 with failed PAT. That score would stand until the end of the first quarter.
In the middle of the second period, following a Duncan fumble deep in the Warriors’ end of the field, Baboquivari put together a 12-play drive that covered 76-yards and tied the game at 6-6 with a 30-yard run by Warrior QB Jesus Buendia. The two-point attempt failed.
The last second plays were not limited to the end of the game. With .08 seconds left in the second quarter, Buendia completed an eight-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion was good, 14-6 at the half.
Duncan’s defense opened the second half with a strong showing forcing the Warriors to put the ball on the ground at the Wildkats’ 30-yard line. Aided by a couple of costly Warrior penalties and key runs by Ben Harris, Potter and Montoya the Wildkats moved the ball steadily into Warrior territory. Montoya connected with Isaac Harris on a 20-yard pass into the end zone that Harris took over his left shoulder in front of tight coverage by the Warrior defender, 14-14, following Montoya’s two-point conversion with 1:24 left in the third quarter.
The final period began much like the third. There was a fumble at the Warrior 26-yard line. Potter picked up 11-yards, Ben Harris added three more and Montoya did the rest, picking up the TD on a 12-yard run. Failed PAT, 20-14 Wildkats.
On their next series of plays Baboquivari took the led 22-20 with a 10-play 60-yard drive.
Set up by a good kickoff return by Potter, Duncan started at the Warrior 47-yard-line. Again runs by Ben Harris, Potter and Montoya set the Wildkats up at the Warrior 25; Isaac Harris hauled in his second touchdown pass of the night. Failed PAT, 4:09 remaining, 26-22.
The Warriors ate up the time left on the game clock with the afore-mentioned 13-play, 72-yard drive which gave them the 28-26 lead they no doubt thought would stand.
Following the game Coach Eric Bejarano told the team huddled before him, “That was a beautiful game.” He laughed and said, ”I’m done. I am going home now. You played great tonight, you never, ever gave up. You played to the end.”
“Game of the Week”, “Game of the Year”, “Game of the Decade” “Game of the Century” or ”Game of a Lifetime”?