FORT WAYNE – This one they had in their hip pocket, secure as a pile of money in an overseas account. The clock was racing toward 2 minutes. Bishop Luers was at the North Side 21-yard line. And the scoreboard was eight points to the good for the Knights.
So of course, because it’s been that kind of year, it would come down to one last desperate chance Friday night on homecoming at Luersfield.
Never easy, is it? someone asked Luers linebacker Jaylon Smith, after the Knights survived a frantic final 2 minutes to claim a 22-20 win.
Smith grinned and shook his head.
No, but you know, North Side is a heck of a team, he said. They’re our rival. We never like to lose to North Side. So it’s pretty good we didn’t start tonight in my senior year.
Instead, they finished, even if it came down to the bitter end and jangled every nerve on the home sideline.
One final stellar effort on a night when the Luers defense was mostly its stellar self sealed it. It happened with less than a minute to play and the Luers crowd in shock after North Side blocked a Luers field-goal attempt, then marched 77 yards the other way to pull within two on C.J. Jackson’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Linnear with 46.8 seconds remaining.
The Redskins (5-2, 3-2 SAC) lined up for the two-point conversion, then jumped early and were docked five yards. Then Jackson took the snap, twisted and turned as the Knights (5-2, 5-1) poured in and uprooted him from the pocket, and finally unloaded a backpedaling throw that sailed high out of the end zone.
When Luers recovered the ensuing onside kick, it was, finally, done.
It was just no holds barred, Smith said of the conversion attempt. Everybody gives their best effort and whatever happens, happens.
What happened was a fitting end to a game in which the Luers defense held the upper hand almost all night, and leaned on the big play for its scoring. Charles Gaston broke 64 yards down the North Side sideline for one touchdown, and Michael Rogers returned a punt 34 yards for another after the Knights pinned North Side at its 1-yard line. Three plays after that, Jackson’s throw to the sideline on third-and-9 from his 16 was picked by Chance Young, who took it home from 20 yards out.
Jackson immediately got that back with a 61-yard throw to Linnear on a play in which the Luers defender went for the interception and missed.
It was a rare mistake for Luers, which, until the last drive, pretty much kept North Side’s offense muzzled.
Defensively, I liked the physicality, said Luers interim coach Steve Keefer, Offensively, I think we got more consistent in the second half. We still have to work on those penalties, though. Penalties are killing us.
Just not this night.