Everything was lined up against Phoenix Central on its first possession of overtime — fourth down and the entire Phoenix North defense lined up in the box.
For the Central offensive line and quarterback Michael Gibson, it was just another play, as he ran it in a yard out and helped pull out a 34-33 win in overtime over North in a Division I game.
“I had to get everyone to stop arguing and come together as a team,” said Gibson before calling the winning play. “We scored and just wanted to win. We wanted to make this our homecoming. I just wanted the team to win.”
Central (3-6) trailed 20-6 at halftime but outscored North 21-7 through the second half and tied the game at 27-27 when Tomas Dobre got the handoff and ran it in from 8 yards out with 53 seconds left in the game.
That was when the Central defense stepped it up.
After North was driving on the ensuing kickoff, and facing fourth and 1 at the 44-yard line, the Central defense forced a turnover on downs when Frank Gomez’s pass fell incomplete.
“I had belief in my team and knew we could bring it together,” said Gibson, who was flushed out of the pocket and forced to throw the ball away during his team?s final possession in regulation.
After the coin toss, North (2-7) went on defense and was strong until two costly penalties moved Central closer to the goal line.
Facing a third and goal at the 3, Gibson got the defense for encroachment and moved the ball just inside the 1.
The next play, Gibson went over his tackle and nose guard for the score.
“We were driving down the field and coming together as a team,” Central center Angel Arevalo said. “Everyone did what they had to do. (In the huddle) all we talked about was score, that’s it and make the block. I wanted to take it in myself if I could have.”
The score capped a five-play, 10-yard drive.
“We both blocked and did our job and Michael ran behind us both,” Central left guard Gimal Reed said. “It wasn’t just us, it takes the whole offensive line to push back the defensive line and we had to do it as a unit.”
When North took possession, Eddie Almarez broke off a 10-yard run that made it a one-point game, but Ricardo Arroyo’s extra point sailed wide right to try and send it to a second overtime.