The Lancers went for the two-point conversion with under a minute remaining, but the Hornets denied the conversion and went on to win 57-48.
Kennedy Catholic wasn’t supposed to be here.
Not at the 3-yard line, staring a win in the face with seconds on the clock. Not when the Lancers were down 21 points with less than five minutes left in the third quarter to Enumclaw, the defending North Puget Sound League Olympic Division champs.
But that’s where the heroics ended.
With 43 seconds left in the game, Enumclaw knocked a two-point conversion play out of receiver Junior Alexander’s hands and returned an onside kick 48 yards for a touchdown to win 57-48 at Highline Stadium. The Hornets (5-0, 2-0 NPSL), which are fifth in The Seattle Times’ rankings for Class 4A, remain undefeated to open the season.
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“It’s hard, but that’s OK,” said Kennedy junior Justin Baker, who had six catches for 155 yards and a touchdown. “We were down by a lot and came back. Usually teams, when they’re down like that, they don’t come back. Honestly, all of us in our hearts, we thought we were going to win. It’s OK.”
Kennedy coach Sheldon Cross had no regrets about not playing it safe after getting the score to pull within 49-48.
“We’re a go-for-the-win team,” he said. “That’s about life. Believing you’re going to be in the fight and go for it in life.”
The Hornets outscored the Lancers 28-14 in the second quarter to take a touchdown lead into halftime. Enumclaw opened the third quarter with a solid drive that ended with senior quarterback Kellen Kranc throwing a 31-yard touchdown pass to senior Bryson Engebretsen for a 35-21 lead.
After forcing Kennedy (3-2, 1-1) to punt, senior Nicholas Harberts punched in a score to build the 21-point lead with 4:32 remaining in the third quarter.
While the Kennedy stands fell silent, sophomore quarterback Sam Huard didn’t. He had a 22-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Jabez Tinae to revive his team. Huard, a four-star recruit, completed 26 of 45 passes for 526 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Enumclaw and Kennedy continued to trade touchdowns. The Lancers started its last dive on its own 10-yard line. Sophomore Jordan Jackson ran in the 2-yard score with seconds left.
“We thought about burning a timeout right there, but there were 43 seconds left in the game,” said Hornets coach Mark Gunderson of strategy before Kennedy attempted its conversion. “I was confident in our kids. I thought, if they had completed it, we would go down and end the game with 40 seconds left. That’s the way the game went. Whoever had the ball last was going to get it done.”
Technically, Huard and the Lancers had their hands on the ball last. Time expired as he raced around the field looking for miracle.
“These guys are known as a powerhouse that can sling the ball and score all the points in the world,” said junior Jackson McCann, who had two touchdowns and a fumble recovery. “It’s a huge win for us and our defense. We came up big.”