Redemption can be so sweet. Last week, Mountain View's Marcus Draper was down on himself after a costly fumble.
But on Friday afternoon against East, Draper was reinstated as his team's hero after his 73-yard touchdown run gave the Bruins a 10-point edge over the Leopards with six minutes to go in first-round action of the state playoffs.
The Bruins held on and pulled off a 28-18 upset, knocking East out of the hunt for the state championship.
"It feels pretty good," Draper said. "It feels awesome. It's definitely the highlight of my season. In fact, of all three years."
The Bruins were sitting on a somewhat comfortable 21-3 lead going into the fourth quarter when the Leopards came storming back.
East narrowed the score to 21-18 halfway through the final period thanks to a pair of touchdowns by Billy Takai.
East's Eric Bohling connected with Takai on a 44-yard touchdown strike that breathed life back into the team. Minutes later, Takai followed it up with a 5-yard touchdown run. East went for two and got it on a quarterback keeper.
Suddenly it was a ballgame.
"I knew they were going to come back," Mountain View coach Teko Johnson said. "They've been in games all year where they've been down and they fought back."
Johnson told his players that it was time for a counterpunch. That's where Draper came in.
"They were beating us down," Draper said. "The momentum was all going their way. Something needed to happen."
The Bruins were on their own 27-yard line when their second-down play broke down. Quarterback Mark Garrett managed to toss the ball to Draper, who scampered first toward the sideline and then to the end zone. Mountain View's stands erupted as it became increasingly likely that their team was headed to the second round.
"Our kids have just developed a mentality," Johnson said. "They didn't want to put the pads away. That's the key."
Coming into the game, Mountain View knew right away what it needed to do.
"We knew if we got up on them quick, they would panic," Draper said.
Sure enough, Mountain View got off to a good start in the first quarter when Garrett found Greg May on a short pass. May did the rest of the work and ran 47 yards for a touchdown, setting the tone for the game. In the second quarter, Garrett once again found May this time wide open for a 24-yard touchdown.
"We didn't back down," said Johnson of his team's first-half performance. "We kind of took it right to them. I think that gave us some confidence going into the second half."