Foothill fell behind by two touchdowns in the first quarter, but rallied behind quarterback Koy Riggin and linebacker Colter McKee for a 29-27 victory over Canyon Springs.
Canyon Springs scored a touchdown with 29 seconds remaining on a roll-out pass from quarterback Nyic'Quavayion Willis to running back Martin Blake to pull within two points, setting up a potential game-tying conversion attempt.
Willis rolled to the other side on the 2-point play but found no receivers open. The sophomore had to force a pass into coverage, and a Foothill defensive back was there to knock it down.
McKee, a senior linebacker, said the Foothill defense was prepared for the conversion play.
“We thought we knew what they were going to do,” McKee said. “They did a pretty similar thing to the play they ran before, and we were ready for it and had our guys in the right position.”
Canyon Springs then attempted and recovered an onside kick with 27 seconds remaining, and Willis completed a pair of passes to get the Pioneers to the Foothill 20-yard line with three seconds to play. Instead of lining up for a long field goal, Canyon Springs kept the offense on the field for the final play.
Willis took the snap in a shotgun formation but had little time in the pocket before Foothill defenders chased him outside. Willis lofted a pass short of the goal line that was batted down to end the game.
It was a wild way for Foothill to improve to 2-0 on the season.
“We started off a little slow,” McKee said, “but we kept our heads in it, we picked it up, made some adjustments we needed to. We’ve got great players out there and everyone kept their heads up and played fast, and that helped us get the win.”
Willis hit receiver Javeion Davison for a pair of scores in the first period to give Canyon Springs a surprising 14-0 lead. In the second quarter, Foothill responded when Riggin found Thomas Fisher-Welch for a 6-yard touchdown.
Late in the half, Foothill defensive lineman Jake Vannostrand made a key defensive play by tackling Blake in his own end zone for a safety to make it a 14-9 game at the half.
Foothill took its first lead early in the third quarter on another touchdown pass from Riggin to Fisher-Welch, this one from 30 yards.
Canyon Springs drove to the Foothill 12-yard line on the ensuing possession, but on a critical third-down play McKee rushed the passer and brought him down for a sack, but not before ripping the ball out of his hands and securing the takeaway.
It was one of two sacks for McKee, though the senior credited defensive tackle Micah Dion Johnson with creating the initial pressure and steering the quarterback into his grasp.
“I was going in next to Micah,” McKee said. “I hit the guy, and he had the ball out so I just turned around and grabbed the ball. Yeah, it’s a great play by me, but it’s a great play by our D-line setting it up. They did that all game.”
Canyon Springs regained the lead late in the third quarter on a 47-yard touchdown run by Blake.
Trailing, 21-15, Riggin led a 67-yard drive and capped it off by scrambling out of pressure on a 3rd-and-7 play and diving inside the pylon for a 9-yard touchdown. Foothill’s 2-point attempt failed, leaving the Falcons with a 22-21 lead to start the fourth quarter.
Foothill running back Kendric Thomas gave the Falcons some breathing room by breaking away for a 37-yard touchdown with five minutes left to make it 29-21. That set up the frantic finish that saw Canyon Springs come up just short.
Riggin, a senior, completed 15-of-21 passes on the night for 174 yards and three touchdowns. Thomas ran 17 times for 149 yards and a TD.
Canyon Springs got a strong performance from Willis, who completed 17-of-24 passes for 213 yards and three touchdowns, but the lefty was intercepted twice. Blake led the Pioneers with 78 rushing yards on nine carries.
Canyon Springs was also hindered by undisciplined play throughout, as the Pioneers were called for 14 penalties that accounted for 136 yards. Six of the flags were for personal fouls.