One minute, down 10: Rancho Verde comes back, advances to title game

One minute, down 10: Rancho Verde comes back, advances to title game

Football

One minute, down 10: Rancho Verde comes back, advances to title game

With 1:17 remaining in the CIF-SS Div. 2 semifinals, Rancho Verde High School (Moreno Valley, Calif.) had the ball in the red zone trailing 38-28.

There was a window. A chance for victory against Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) High School.

But it was closing rapidly.

Even if the Mustangs were to score a quick touchdown, they would have to recover the onside kick, take it downfield and, and the very least, hit a field goal to send it to overtime.

But this final 1:17 was all about windows for freshman quarterback Aj Duffy.

He struck receiver Jaxen Turner in a tight window between four defenders for a touchdown. The successful point after attempt brought them within three points.

The ensuing onside kick was a thing of beauty.

It took a strange hop right in front of the return man and bounced off his chest back toward the oncoming Mustangs.

Rancho Verde came up with it.

The team, coming into the semifinals matchup undefeated, had the ball around the 48-yard line, trailing by three, with 1:09 left. Suddenly, they were back in it.

Over the next two plays, they lost two total yards. With 34 seconds left, they had moved backward and faced a third-and-12.

But this minute was all about windows.

Duffy threw it deep. Two defenders moved in front of it, but the ball somehow snuck between their arms.

It looked like the ball had been intercepted. It had to have been knocked down. But there was Jamar Simpson, racing into the end zone, setting the ball down and falling to the ground as emotions flooded through the senior.

The course of Rancho Verde’s 2018 season changed in 54 seconds of game time.

The Mustangs won 41-38.

They’ll take on Upland High School (Calif.) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. as they look to finish their undefeated season and win the championship.

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One minute, down 10: Rancho Verde comes back, advances to title game
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