Bishop Luers coach Kyle Lindsay has seen a lot of football during his eight-year tenure as head coach and during his father's decades-long run before that.
So when he says a half of football was the best playoff half he'd ever seen on Luers' home field, that makes it a truly special performance.
The Knights overcame a 21-point halftime deficit Friday to stun visiting Class 2A No. 3 Pioneer in a semistate game and win 42-34 behind a five-touchdown performance from quarterback Carson Clark and a pick-six from sophomore Brayden McInturf.
The victory catapults Luers (8-6), which went 3-6 during the regular season, to the 16th state championship game in program history and first since Jaylon Smith was starring for the Knights in 2012.
“It's so sweet, man,” said Clark, who went 22 of 34 for 307 yards. “I wouldn't want to be here with another group of guys, experience all of this. We're down 28-7 and we're in the locker room at halftime. We have a game plan and we could've just sat down and gave up. ... I'm just so proud of these guys. The O-line had the best game of their career. It's a team win, not an individual person.”
The Knights trailed 22-0 at one point in the first half and were nearly powerless to stop the Pioneer rushing attack. They scored once before halftime on a 6-yard pass from Clark to Brody Glenn, but Pioneer (12-2) immediately countered with a 70-yard touchdown run just before the half.
After the break, however, it was immediately clear that Luers had a different attitude. The Knights marched 54 yards on their opening possession and Clark found Krashaun Menson for a 13-yard score, one of Menson's four catches for 58 yards.
Then, on the ensuing kickoff, Lindsay tried an onside kick and wide receiver Tru Wallace came up with the ball for Luers. Glenn did the rest on that drive, making a leaping 33-yard catch on a deep ball and then adding a 5-yard touchdown grab on fourth-and-goal. Suddenly it was 28-21 and Luers was alive.
Pioneer tried its only pass of the night later in the quarter and it floated up for grabs in traffic. It was the sophomore McInturf who came down with it and he raced 15 yards the other way for a touchdown and a 28-all tie.
Luers got a stop on its next possession and took over near midfield. After a 33-yard reception from Antwian Lake, running back Ramon Anderson caught a pass in the flat, cut back to daylight and scampered into the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown and a lead the Knights would never relinquish.
“I can just give the ball to Ramon and just watch him make moves,” Clark said. “Sometimes there's two guys unblocked and he makes them miss. It's just watching a highlight reel in the backfield.”
Trailing by eight, Pioneer had one more chance to tie the game in the final minute, but Luers stuffed back-to-back runs on third- and fourth-and-inches to seal the victory.
The message after one of the gutsiest wins in program history was: “We're not done.”
“We're right here, we just can't take the foot off the gas pedal,” Clark said. “We just have to go 10 times harder now.”