Even though he just watched his team rally from a 21-point deficit to take the lead late in Friday’s game at Basic, Foothill senior Kyle Keplinger was still worried in the final two minutes.
Basic had marched from its own 26-yard line to the Foothill 28 and was going in for a potential game-tying score.
The Falcons collectively held their breath until Tyren Boyken leapt high in the air in the end zone and tipped a pass to himself for an interception with 1:31 left that clinched a 42-35 victory over the Wolves.
“I was getting kind of scared,” Keplinger said. “(Boykin) getting that pick at the end was great. That was probably the key play tonight.”
The go-ahead score came on Brandon Wiltz’s 10-yard run with 2:26 left in the game, which was the first time the Falcons had the lead all night. The score came three plays after Michael Gamboa blocked a Basic punt to give the Falcons the ball at the 7-yard line.
“I knew we could do it,” Keplinger said. “We had some heart and we pulled together.”
Keplinger had plenty of key plays and a trio of touchdowns of his own the help Foothill (7-1, 5-1 Southeast) overcome a disastrous second quarter.
Keplinger had a 6-yard TD run in the first quarter, an 11-yard TD reception in the second quarter, and a 95-yard kickoff return for a score in the third quarter.
Basic (5-4, 4-4) appeared it would jump back in front by two scores with 6:31 left in the game when they had a first-and-goal at the 4. But the Wolves fumbled the ball into the endzone and Jarett Arcangel recovered for the Falcons.
Four plays later, Drew Doxtator fired a 52-yard strike to Tyler Morris that tied the game at 35-35 with 4:48 left in the game. Doxtator completed 20-of-35 passes for 207 yards and three touchdowns for the Falcons.
Foothill needed to rally after a disastrous string of events in the second quarter put Basic in control.
With the game tied at 7, Dakota Gonzalez blocked a Foolhill punt, and the Wolves took over at the Falcon 4-yard line
Three plays later, Antraye Johnson fumbled the ball on the way into the endzone, but teammate Lorenzo Samson pounced on it to give the Wolves the TD.
Foothill then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Basic’s Jesse Hernandez recovered. Johnson danced into the endzone on a 27-yard run on the next play.
Basic’s Devonte Boyd intercepted a Falcon pass on the next drive, and Johnson tossed a 40-yard halfback pass to Boyd for a touchdown on the next play to balloon the Wolves’ lead to 28-7 with 6:06 left in the first half.
But Keplinger keyed the comeback with his 11-yard touchdown reception that capped the Falcons’ final drive of the first half, trimming the Basic lead to 14.
“We liked scoring before half. That gave us momentum, especially getting the ball first in the second half,” Keplinger said. “After that, we just wanted to come out firing in the second half and we did.”
As good as things went for Foothill in the second half, the wheels came off for the Wolves after halftime.
“It was mistakes,” Basic coach Jeff Cahill said. “We fumbled at the one yard line, we let them get a kickoff return, we threw a punt in the ground and they blocked it. That’s what turned the game.”
Johnson had 119 yards and two touchdowns on the ground to go along with his TD pass for Basic, and he also finished with 60 passing yards.
The game was delayed 25 minutes in the third quarter after an injury to Basic quarterback Eddie Vega. Cahill said Vega’s head had been slammed to the turf and he was briefly rendered unconscious. He said Vega left the field in an ambulance as a precautionary measure.
Vega posted 138 yards passing and scored on a TD run for the Wolves.
As for Foothill, the Falcons will now host a showdown with Liberty on Thursday to decide the league title.
“This was great,” Keplinger said. “We will just enjoy this tonight, but then we will get ready for Liberty’s ground and pound next week.”