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3A high school football championship: Hurricane goes from happiness to heartbreak

Published: Monday, Aug. 31 2015 10:08 p.m. MDT

There are no words in the English language that could come close to describing Hurricane's sideline at the end of its 3A title game showdown against Juan Diego.

Pulverized? Heart-broken? Crushed?

None of them come close to capturing the emotions Hurricane went through when its championship dream turned into a nightmare with literally no time left on the clock.

Moments earlier, Hurricane had completed a stunning 68-yard drive to surge ahead of Juan Diego, 10-6, with less than a minute remaining. Juan Diego drove the length of the field, however, in those 46 seconds and completed a 31-yard Hail Mary from Cody Stevenson to Bruce Nix as time expired to lift Juan Diego to an incredible 12-10 comeback win.

For Hurricane, the Tigers were left absolutely dumbfounded, as they went from agony to ecstasy to agony in the space of 46 seconds.

Nobody from Hurricane knew what to say, except that they were extremely proud of the way their guys fought from start to finish.

"I thought they were fantastic," Hurricane coach Chris Homer said of his players. "I thought they fought their guts out. (Juan Diego) made one more play they we did."

Unfortunately for Homer and his terrific senior class, it's a play they'll replay in their heads over and over and over again in the weeks and months ahead.

Following a 9-yard touchdown by Hurricane's Tim Long with 46 seconds left, Juan Diego advanced the ball from its own 20-yard line to the Hurricane 31. But with 2.7 seconds left, it was going to take something miraculous to derail Hurricane's bid to win its first state football championship in school history.

Something miraculous, however, indeed happened.

Stevenson dropped back and lofted a perfectly placed ball into the path of Nix, who caught it between two Hurricane defenders and held on to give the Soaring Eagle a stunning victory.

Up until that last-second catch, Hurricane had done everything it needed to get the win.

Trailing 6-0 throughout the second half, the Tigers halved that deficit when Adam Long drilled a 40-yard field goal with 5:22 left in the fourth quarter.

Hurricane's defense, which was stellar throughout, got a stop on Juan Diego's ensuing possession, and the Tigers quickly got the ball back.

With Long at the controls, the Tigers drove the length of the field and seemingly won the game when Long scored from 9 yards out with 46 seconds to go.

"Our defense was great," said Homer. "Our offense never stopped believing that we could get those points, and we finally got them."

In the end, though, it proved agonizingly to not be enough for Hurricane, and the Tigers were forced to walk away with a second-place trophy for the second year in a row.

"These seniors are an amazing class, and I really think they should've had this," said defensive lineman Daniel Nielsen. "They worked their hearts for it."

e-mail: drasmussen@desnews.com

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