The unexpected rain that fell over Klahowya’s stadium was just the first of many surprises in Friday night’s game between the Eagles and Kingston.
With the Bucs ahead 26-21, Klahowya made one final drive down the field, 56 yards standing between them and victory. A late fumble inside the 10 was recovered by Kingston sophomore Kaiden Planck. The Bucs were 18.5 seconds away from a win with the ball on their own 3-yard line. A subsequent false start penalty moved them back even farther.
Then, disaster struck. The handoff wasn’t clean and the ball just lay there on the goal line waiting to be recovered. In dove Klahowya defensive lineman Alex Devine, who recovered the fumble for a touchdown to give the Eagles a one-point triumph.
“There was time on the clock,” Klahowya coach Jeff Witte said. “They were so far back, and they had a penalty that pushed them back even more. It was just like, ‘Keep the pressure on.’”
Kingston was hoping to give itself some breathing room before going into victory formation. Klahowya still had at least one timeout, which would have made kneeling down twice difficult with the line of scrimmage less than 2 yards from the goal line, though coach Billy Russo said after the game that they probably should have gone into victory formation anyway.
“It was a great game, though,” Russo said. “They played their butts off. We played our butts off, and it was a one-point difference.”
Kingston had things going its way for about 2 1/2 quarters. The Bucs led 20-7 until about the eight-minute mark of the third quarter, when the Eagles began climbing back into the game.
Hugo Hall gave Kingston a 12-7 lead in the second quarter as he jumped an out route perfectly and had nothing but green turf in sight as he returned it 45 yards for a TD. Quarterback Brooks Arnim scored the second of his two rushing touchdowns early in the third and then was successful on the subsequent two-point conversion to extend the lead to 20-7.
“We had it earlier, and then we gave the momentum back,” Russo said. “We left them with some hope.”
Klahowya answered quickly as quarterback Damon Clarke hit Carson Moore in stride for a 60-yard score midway through the third quarter. The Eagles then took a 21-20 lead on Logan Wallis’s 6-yard TD run. Clarke found Wallis wide open in the end zone for the two-point conversion.
Kingston wasn’t done yet, though. Senior running back Sam Reber, who had been earning the tough yards on the ground all night, was finally rewarded as he plunged in for a 3-yard touchdown with 10:15 to go in the game. Reber finished with 76 yards on 22 carries.
Clarke led Klahowya on the final drive with a couple of strong runs and a key 17-yard completion to Moore, getting his team all the way down to Kingston 8-yard line before that fateful fumble that seemingly dashed all hope. But it was Kingston’s final penalty and fumble that would ultimately prove to be the difference.
“We beat ourselves a lot today,” Russo said. “A lot of penalties.”
Klahowya 27, Kingston 26
KI 6 6 8 6 — 26
KL 7 0 14 6 — 27
Klahowya — Logan Wallis 5 pass from Damon Clarke (Moore kick)
Kingston — Brooks Arnim 7 run (conversion failed)
Kingston — Hugo Hall 45-yard interception return (conversion failed)
Kingston — Arnim 6 run (Arnim run)
Klahowya — Carson Moore 60 pass from Clarke (Moore kick)
Klahowya — Logan Wallis 6 run (Clarke to Wallis)
Kingston — Sam Reber 3 run (conversion failed)
Klahowya — Alex Devine 0 fumble recovery (conversion failed)
Passing — Kingston: Arnim 10-20-129, INT. Klahowya: Clarke 8-20-97 2 TDs, INT.
Rushing — Kingston: Reber 22-76, TD; Arnim 19-55, 2 TD; Standley 4-7, Hernandez 1-(-4). Klahowya: Clarke 14-107; Wallis 8-42, TD; Turk 1-6; Killoran 3-2.
Receiving — Kingston: Walter 4-66; Hall 3-35; Hernandez 1-12; Moff 1-8; Standley 1-8. Klahowya: Moore 2-77, TD; Killoran 1-12; Wallis 4-0, TD.