A week ago, Foothill needed a little help to advance to the postseason.
The Falcons made the best of it Friday night, pulling off 27-20 upset victory of Northeast League champion Las Vegas in the Sunrise Region quarterfinals.
Miles Killebrew picked off a pass from Wildcats’ quarterback Hasaan Henderson and returned it 22 yards for a score with 1:03 remaining to give Foothill the victory.
Las Vegas, winners of the Sunrise Region title for the past six seasons, finished the year at 8-2.
“I probably should send Green Valley a bouquet of flowers,” Foothill coach Martin Redmond said. “Our kids believed all week that they could pull this off and — what a performance. It’s not the biggest win in school history, but it’s pretty close.”
“I got the call from the secondary and just made the play on the ball,” said Killebrew, who was untouched on the winning score. “No one gave us a chance except our team and our fans. It was certainly against all odds, and our team turned in an amazing performance.”
Las Vegas did have one final chance, after Farrell Victor’s kickoff return to the Wildcat 49. On third-and-22, Henderson found Saeveon Butler for 44 yards to the Falcon 19. Two plays later, Henderson hit Victor for 15 yards and the Wildcats were knocking at the Foothill 4 with 12 seconds left.
But Henderson, with his team out of timeouts, ran a draw and was tackled two yards shy of the end zone on the game’s final play.
“This is truly an amazing feeling,” Redmond said. “Our defense was outstanding and turned in a gutsy performance. I’m excited for these kids and for our school.”
Foothill’s Kyle Keplinger ran for one score, caught a pass for another and had a 47-yard punt return to set up a third touchdown.
Foothill (6-5) came in with a gameplan: Short passes to keep the ball away from the Wildcat offense. It worked, as the Falcons held the ball for nearly 19 minutes of the first half to narrowly trail 7-6 at halftime.
The Wildcats, who scored touchdowns on their initial possessions of each half, pushed the lead to 14-6 as Butler caught a 1-yard TD pass from Henderson. The Falcons answered by going 80 yards in seven plays, capped off by Parker Riggin’s 26-yard TD pass to Keplinger. Riggin hooked up with Connor Waitkus for the two-point conversion, tying the game at 14-14.
Early in the fourth quarter, Foothill grabbed its first lead of the night on Riggin’s 4-yard TD pass to Tyrel Garner. Victor scored from one yard out with just over eight minutes left, but Michael Flores’ missed extra point kept the score tied at 20.
Riggin completed 30 of 48 passes for 270 yards, with Garner and Keplinger combining for 225 receiving yards.
Henderson was 16 of 30 for 284 yards. Butler caught seven balls for 115 yards.
The win moves the Falcons into next week’s semifinal at Basic, a 24-17 winner over Desert Pines on Friday.