Bishop Luers was trailing by four points with less than three minutes to play in their eventual 45-42 win at Homestead. At that moment, the Spartans were once again in the red zone, seemingly on the verge of a two-score lead.
The Knights, who had led 35-21 at halftime, had been held to a field goal in the second half.
The momentum was clearly with Homestead, but at that moment, Bishop Luers quarterback Carson Clark was on the sideline, reminding his offense that “now is not the time to get negative.”
“We get an interception, a strip sack, we are going to score,” Clark said of what he was telling his teammates. “We told ourselves that. It's the law of momentum.”
Clark called it perfectly. With Homestead facing third down, quarterback Peyton Slaven attempted what would have been a 9-yard touchdown pass, but senior defensive lineman Evan Linker snatched the ball out of the air just a few yards short of the goal line and sprinted back to the Luers 17 before being brought down.
That gave his Class 2A No. 1 Knights (3-0) one more chance and 2 minutes, 39 seconds to drive down the field and finish off their second win over a Class 6A opponent in three games.
The final drive was adventurous – Clark ran to the sideline to get a fourth-down conversion, hit Brody Glenn with a pass as Glenn collided with a teammate on another play, and a penalty was added to a significant gain when the refs ruled that Clark was thrown by Homestead players after running out of bounds.
But in the end, it was senior running back Sir Hale who completed the winning drive. He ran toward the Homestead sideline, crossing the goal line practically untouched as he put his team ahead with 13 seconds left.
“The emotions were crazy. I saw the outside wide open, and I took it,” said Hale, who scored two touchdowns. “They believed in me, and I ain't going to take that for granted, so I ran it in.”
The first half suggested the outcome could be decided by which team had the ball last – the Spartans and Knights traded touchdowns on their first three possessions, with Bishop Luers forcing Homestead to turn over the ball on downs just before halftime. Luers had 13 seconds to work with, but Clark connected with wide receiver Brody Glenn for a 41-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the drive to make it a two-touchdown lead at the break.
Clark threw for 338 yards and completed 21 of 30 passes, throwing a touchdown to Antwian Lake (on a huge 62-yard pass) and two to Glenn before halftime. RJ Hogue and Hale each scored in the first half, as well.
Homestead's Desmond Smith Jr. scored the first three Spartans touchdowns, one of them on a 13-yard pass from Slaven and another on a 46-yard run, and Brett Fuchs scored two touchdowns in the second half.