Foothill’s flag football team could have folded when it relinquished a 12-point halftime lead in the waning minutes of Thursday afternoon’s game with rival Green Valley.
But that’s not how the confident and offensive-minded Falcons work.
“It takes us like 58 seconds to score a touchdown, so I know we can drive the ball fast,” Foothill coach Cynthia Guzman said. “So when we got the ball back with (5:05) left, I knew we had a chance.”
After driving 45 yards down the field, Madisyn McArthur hit Whitley Brow on a 15-yard post-corner route touchdown on fourth down with 21 seconds remaining to help Foothill top visiting Green Valley 18-12 in a matchup that could determine the Southeast League champion.
“It feels really good when you do your homework, you build your players up individually and you come together as a team,” Guzman said. “I’m not always the one who’s calling plays. It takes a village. It takes the whole team. Some of these girls just see things.”
Brow had five catches for 63 yards and two touchdowns to lead Foothill (13-4, 5-1), which took over first place in the league with four games remaining and also avenged a 26-13 loss to the Gators on Jan. 3.
On the Falcons’ final play on offense Thursday, the 5-foot-9-inch Brow lined up with a smaller corner on the left side of the field, and Guzman knew exactly what to draw up.
“She’s got great hands and has some jump,” Guzman said of Brow. “She can jump. She’s a volleyball player — a really good one. So I knew to just give her the ball. And it was a great throw.”
On the ensuing drive, Green Valley quarterback Bella Cipili was sacked by Brittania Beltran for a 5-yard loss on the opening play with 11.8 seconds left. The Gators were able to complete two consecutive passes after to reach midfield, but time soon expired.
“I think the energy had shifted (on the sack),” Guzman said. “When you get a sack, and it’s that type of intensity — wow.”
McArthur was 15-for-24 passing for 204 yards and three touchdowns for Foothill. She threw an 18-yard TD to Brow for the game’s first score with 5:05 left in the first half, then hit Julia Lynch down the right sideline for a 40-yard score with 26 seconds remaining to give the Falcons a 12-0 halftime lead.
The Gators, though, climbed back in the second half with a 24-yard TD catch by Christina Mayberry and a 4-yard scoring run by Deborah Grant. Both of the extra-point passes went incomplete to leave the score tied.
Safety Tomi Luke led Foothill’s defense with six tackles and three pass deflections.
“Tomi has been really instrumental with us as the middle safety,” Guzman said. “She’s really fast and we’re happy to have her. She sees the ball, she’s proactive, she’s fast. She can get back fast. And she’s not afraid to catch and run a touchdown.”
Grant had 16 carries for 187 yards and a TD and three receptions for 49 yards to lead Green Valley (14-3, 5-1).
Mayberry had 12 tackles, Tiara Jimmison added three sacks and Alyson Thorne had an interception for the Gators.