It was all but over.
Hurricane quarterback Tim Long had just scored on a nine-yard quarterback dash, propelling the Tigers to a 10-6 lead with just 45.7 seconds remaining to play. After the ensuing kickoff, Juan Diego was given a daunting and virtually impossible task.
The Soaring Eagle hadn't threatened the entire second half, gaining a total of only 51 yards throughout the last two quarters up until that point. Now, with time not on their side, they had to drive 80 yards in less than a minute to claim the 3A state title.
Quarterback Cody Stevenson would orchestrate his offense down the field, methodically dissecting gaps in the Hurricane zone en route to a five-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 31-yard desperation "Hail Mary" to Bruce Nix in the end zone to win the 3A state championship 12-10.
In a split second, Juan Diego shifted from painful agony to absolute ecstasy. As Nix fell to the turf, the crowd erupted in pandemonium, storming the field and dogpiling the hero.
"My heart goes out to those Hurricane players and coaches," said Juan Diego coach John Colosimo. "I'm glad we won it, but boy, to have them lose it like that — I really feel for their team. They played a great ballgame, and we were lucky."
Ironically, the winning drive started with a cardinal sin. Juan Diego was flagged on the first play, negating a 20-yard shovel pass and taking valuable time off the clock.
Stevenson shook off the mistake and found his rhythm. Despite enormous pressure and heckling fans pounding him from every angle, he managed to keep his composure and reel off four straight completions of 12, 16 and 21 yards and the final pass of 31 yards.
With nine seconds remaining and the ball at the Juan Diego 48-yard line, the Soaring Eagle knew what they wanted to do.45 comments on this story
"We wanted to try (and get two plays)," stated Colosimo, "We had a dump-off in the middle and the sideline route (to choose from), and Cody read it and went the sideline route and got out of bounds. We kind of had that scripted out."
Juan Diego came out in a trips-left formation for the final hurrah. As the play progressed, Stevenson felt heat from the right side and started to drift toward his left. He then tossed a pass to the sky, giving Nix the opportunity to out-jump his opponent in the left corner of the end zone.
Nix leaped over two defenders and secured the game-winning touchdown.
"This is unexplainable," said Stevenson, "This is the most amazing feeling I've felt. Last second, final play."