Spring Valley quarterback K.C. Moore rallied his team on the strength of his right arm, but it was his right foot that lifted the Grizzlies into the playoffs.
Moore, who also handles the place-kicking duties for Spring Valley, booted a 24-yard field goal in the second overtime to lift the visiting Grizzlies to a stunning 34-31 upset of Durango and a berth in the Class 4A Sunset Region playoffs.
“My team was depending on me to make it,” Moore said. “I knew I had it in.”
Spring Valley (4-5, 3-3 Southwest League) will enter the playoffs as the No. 4 seed from the Southwest and meets Arbor View in the opening round of the postseason.
Durango (6-3, 3-3) was eliminated with the loss after Bonanza defeated Desert Oasis.
“That was a hell of a job. My guys played great. They had every reason to quit tonight and they just wouldn’t do it,” Spring Valley head coach Marcus Teal said. “These guys came to play the second half. It was an amazing job. I couldn’t be more proud of those guys. It was awesome.”
The halftime cleansing was necessary because Durango raced out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. The Trailblazers had opportunities to add to their lead in the second quarter, but Spring Valley’s defense stopped two scoring opportunities.
Moore, who threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a score, struggled in the first half, as the Grizzles were limited to 22 total yards.
The second half was a different matter.
The Grizzlies scored on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Moore to Noah Williams to cut Durango’s lead to 14-6 early in the third quarter.
Durango answered when Jayson Johnson scored on a 5-yard run to push the Trailblazers lead to 21-6 before a 1-yard run by Moore.
“We had to put our best plays together, and we told our quarterback he’s got a lot riding on this game,” Teal said. “He was a little off in the beginning, but we told him that he has to settle down and just play the game. The offense has got to come together and just play, just make plays, catch the ball, block a guy, do your assignment, and they did that.”
Early in the fourth quarter, Johnson scored on a 46-yard run to push Durango’s lead to 28-12 with 9:07 remaining in the game.
Moore maintained his composure, though, and led his team on 58-yard drive that was capped with a 17-yard strike to Williams. Moore connected with Josh Arredondo on the two-point conversion to bring the Grizzlies to within 28-20.
Durango tried to run out the clock, but its drive stalled at the Spring Valley 45. The ensuing Durango punt was downed at the Spring Valley 4-yard line with 2:19 remaining.
Moore then etched his name in the Spring Valley history books by driving his team 96 yards on 12 plays to cut Durango’s lead to 28-26 on a 9-yard pass to Arredondo. He tied the game by connecting with Williams in the back of the end zone on the 2-point conversion.
“He’s done that for us all year,” Teal said of Moore. “When he keeps his head in the game, and he’s really focused on what he’s got to do, he can really do some great things.”
In the first overtime, the Grizzlies had the first possession, but after three straight incomplete passes, Moore kicked a 29-yard field to give the Grizzlies their first lead of the night. Durango couldn’t muster any offense on its possession, and placekicker Fabio Villa-Arroyo booted a 32-yard field goal to send the game into a second overtime.
Durango’s offense could only muster 2 yards on its second overtime possession, and an errant snap on a 26-yard field goal attempt gave the Grizzlies a chance to win on their possession.
Alhaji-Ibrahim Kamara ran for 220 yards on 31 carries to lead the Trailblazers.