by Michael Smith
Blue Springs South seemed to have the game wrapped up.
The Jaguars were leading the Grain Valley football team 21-17 with a little more than 2 minutes remaining in the game. South had just converted third-and-10 at its own 19 after a 12-yard screen pass from quarterback Cash Parker to wide receiver Tommy Lapour.
All the Jaguars had to do was run out the remaining time on the clock as Grain Valley had no timeouts. The Eagles defense made big plays the entire game, so did it have one more left in them?
Senior middle linebacker Brody Baker forced a fumble after a Theodis Thomas run up the middle, and the ball was recovered by senior defensive end Jake Allen at the South 35-yard line with 2 minutes and 4 seconds remaining.
That eventually led to a 5-yard touchdown run by quarterback Caleb Larson with 28.6 seconds left as the Eagles won a 24-21 thriller Friday at home.
The win was Grain Valley’s first over a Class 6 team.
“That’s huge,” Grain Valley head coach David Allie said. “We’re growing and someday soon, we are going to be at that level. You have to test yourself.”
The fumble recovery breathed new life into the Eagles and gave them a chance when it seemed like the game was all but over.
“I just recovered it, Brody was the one who stripped the ball,” Allen said. “I got a double team and I tried to split it. That didn’t work so I spun off of it and the ball landed right in my hands.”
On the final drive, Grain Valley (3-2) had the ball at the South 17-yard line after a pair of 2-yard runs and an incomplete pass.
On fourth-and-6, Larson dropped back to pass and rolled to his right. No receiver was open so he tucked the ball and ran to pick up 9 yards and a first down after being pushed out of bounds. Following a Ty Williams 3-yard run to the 5, Larson, who had a monster game with 174 yards on 23 carries, punched it in with a run up the middle after a fake handoff to put the Eagles up 24-21.
“I want to give a huge shout out to my offensive line and my running backs and Ty Williams for blocking for me on those quarterback runs,” Larson said. “He takes a beating for me, without him, I wouldn’t be able to do that.”
With just 28.6 seconds left, Parker managed to get the Jaguars down to the Grain Valley 19-yard line. South place kicker Jack Brickhouse had a chance to tie the game with a 36-yard field goal attempt, but it was short as the Eagles crowd, coaches and players were sent into a frenzy.
The Grain Valley defense stepped up big to limit an explosive Jaguar offense that came into the evening averaging 42 points per game. It held South to 388 total yards, forced three turnovers and sacked Parker three times.
“Our front line was able to get pressure on the quarterback and our (defensive backs) had great coverage on their receivers,” Allen said. “Their quarterback has some crazy stats, but I think our defense held him to half the yards he had been getting.
“I do think we were the best defense that they have seen (this season).”
Keagan Hart intercepted a Parker pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage late in the first period and junior defensive end Rhylan Alcanter may have made the play of the night for Grain Valley.
Blue Springs South (3-2) had the ball at the Grain Valley 36-yard line and was ahead 14-10. Parker tried to hit a receiver on an out route but Alcanter tipped his pass, stumbled and caught the ball and returned the interception for 36 yards for a TD and a 17-14 lead with 2:38 remaining in the third.
“I saw it was going to be an out route or a screen, so I knew I had to get my hands up,” Alcanter said. “I am so excited right now. I saw the ball and I tipped it and thought, ‘Oh! This is catchable! The love I got from my teammates; you can trade that for anything.”
Added Allen: “That was the most athletic play I have ever seen in my life. Without that play, our momentum would have been totally different.”
Allie has high praise for Alcanter and the play.
“How about that?” Allie asked rhetorically. “That shows his athletic ability. He was stumbling, I thought he was going to go down. He kept his feet and took it into the end zone. That was probably one of the best plays I have seen a (defensive lineman) make.”
South scored on its opening drive of the game when a screen pass from Parker to Lapour went 58 yards and set up a 1-yard TD run for Parker to put South up 7-0.
Grain Valley responded on its first drive when Larson found a big hole up the middle, shed one tackle and rumbled 51-yards for a score to tie the game at 7-all at the 7:09 mark in the first.
Brickhouse missed a 47-yard field goal for South with 50.9 seconds left in the first quarter, but Grain Valley place kicker Austin Schmitt nailed a 27-yard attempt to give the Eagles a 10-7 lead, a score that held until halftime.
South scored on its first possession of the second half, as well, when a 56-yard screen pass from Parker to Lapour set up a 1-yard TD run from Thomas to make it 14-10 with 5:56 left in the third.
After Alcanter’s interception put the Eagles back up by three, Parker responded when he hit Malachi Howard on a fade route for a 23-yard touchdown pass to put South up 21-17 with 1:30 remaining at the third.
The Jaguars nearly put the game away late in the fourth, but the Eagles defense and Larson had other ideas.
“That’s history breaking for us,” Alcanter said when asked about Grain Valley getting its first win against a Class 6 program. “I am so happy for our coach. He deserves it. All of our coaches do.”
Larson heads toward the end zone for an Eagles touchdown against Blue Springs South.
Photo credit: John Overstreet
Ty Williams breaks through the defense in the Eagles victory over Blue Springs South.
Photo credit: John Overstreet
Larson runs the ball into the end zone as the Eagles score against Blue Springs South in the final seconds of the game to take the victory 24-21. Photo credit: John Overstreet
Photo credit: Clara Jaques