Cheyenne’s thrilling 29-20 playoff-clinching win over Democracy Prep came down to one play.
The Blue Knights were trailing 22-20 and driving midway through the fourth quarter with a chance to reclaim the lead. Quarterback Amar Smith — who threw three touchdowns in the first half — lofted a pass toward receiver Kelley Jones on a post pattern.
However, Cheyenne cornerback Joshua Washington had gained inside position and as Jones made a move on the ball, Washington turned around and the pass landed in his hands. He quickly turned up the field and sprinted 99 yards for the game-sealing touchdown with 5:59 remaining in the game.
The interception gave the Desert Shields a two-possession lead never relinquished.
The thrilling comeback win also sends the Desert Shields (7-2, 3-1 in Class 3A Sunset League) back to the playoffs.
“When I lined up, my whole sideline helped me out,” Washington said. “I’ve got to give it to my teammates. They helped me out. (Joshua Rose) said it’s the one-on-one matchup you want and you’re going to get it. I looked over and played my defense right. All of my other teammates were in the right spot, and we just played it right.”
Smith picked apart the Desert Shields in the first half, throwing for 110 yards and three touchdowns. Two went to Keionte Scott, who finished the game with five receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Smith also connected with Jones on a 5-yard touchdown pass to give the Blue Knights (2-7, 1-3) a 20-7 lead at the half.
“The bottom line is that’s a good ball club,” Cheyenne head coach Pat Ward said of Democracy Prep. “They beat Coronado, and then Coronado goes and beats Green Valley. They beat Del Sol, which has the most touchdown passes in the league. They have a bunch of good athletes.”
The Desert Shields made some key defensive adjustments, though, to take away the Blue Knights passing attack in the second half, and the Desert Shields ground game started clicking.
“We platoon on defense. So we were playing some seconds on the first drive of the game,” Ward said. “We stopped that nonsense. And yes, we were extremely flat to start the game. We made our (offensive) adjustments at the half, based on what they were doing defensively.
“(On defense) we wrapped it up on the backside to take (Scott) away, and when we did that they threw the other way.”
The offense got going when quarterback Joshua Rose hit Mike Reed on a 4-yard scoring pass, and Rose ran for a 7-yard score to give the Desert Shields a 22-20 lead in the third quarter. The Desert Shields also turned to sophomore running back Majae Madison, who ran for 154 yards on 18 carries.
“I basically went to my twins package to get them out wider, and then I turned my sophomore loose and he went crazy,” Ward said. “And that’s what we needed to do. I didn’t want to give them the ball.”