The Sierra Vista girls flag football team played the part of the New England Patriots on Wednesday night with a late comeback victory to win a title.
The Mountain Lions trailed by 10 points in the final minutes on the road against Desert Oasis, but found a way to claw their way back into the game. A last-second 20-yard touchdown throw from senior quarterback Kalei Watkins to Jamie Kalaau-Sunia gave Sierra Vista a walk-off 37-34 victory and the Southwest League title.
The game-winning play was called by the players themselves.
“It was what they wanted to run,” Sierra Vista coach Levi Gill said. “It was kind of a unanimous decision that they wanted to run that play. We saved it for the whole game and it worked out for us so we’re grateful for it.”
The game was an unexpected shootout. Desert Oasis jumped out to a 14-0 lead to open the game but trailed 19-14 at the half.
The quarterbacks for both teams traded long touchdown throws in the final 30 minutes, but it was the Mountain Lions (14-3, 9-1 Southwest) who possessed the ball last, sealing their victory.
Sierra Vista’s Watkins dropped back to pass 33 times Wednesday night, which was not the game plan the team expected going in.
“They did a good job of taking away our run,” Gill said. “If they’re going to give us the pass we’re going to throw it and if they give us the run we’re going to run it.”
The Mountain Lions ran the ball just once in the second half.
Watkins was 17-for-33 passing for 283 yards and six touchdowns. Watkins threw two touchdowns each to sophomore Mia Buanamontri, freshman Ryan Watkins and Kalaau-Sunia, who also added an interception on defense.
“I thought it was going to be a lower-scoring game,” Gill said. “This is our third time playing each other and I thought both defenses would make it a tougher game.”
For Desert Oasis (12-6, 8-2), sophomore Makayla Rickard went 14-for-26 passing for 257 yards and five touchdowns. She connected with sophomore LillyAna Ghanem four times for touchdowns and senior Leiana Macusi once for a score.
Sierra Vista’s league title means the Mountain Lions will open the postseason at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at home against either Shadow Ridge or Arbor View.
“It’s great momentum and hopefully we can use that for the playoffs,” Gill said. “But the playoffs are a whole different animal.”