Miracle finishes always bear watching, but one in California on Friday night took even more precedence when it lifted Encino (Calif.) Crespi High past Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame, the very team it knocked off, 34-28, with a remarkable final play.
As reported in both the Los Angeles Daily News and Los Angeles Times, the two teams faced a do-or-die game for a playoff berth, where Crespi found itself tied 28-28 with just enough time for a final snap some 68 yards from the Notre Dame end zone. As you can see below, quarterback Kenny Stenhouse took the snap and dropped off a short pass to the Celts' diminutive playmaker, Michael Davison, who used a variety of elusive moves to get the ball upfield before he appeared to be wrapped up by a Notre Dame defender. That's when he pitched the ball back to fellow receiver Terrence Williams, who traveled the remaining 50 yards, dragging past and leaping beyond a defender for the final 5 yards to playoff pay dirt.
Video courtesy of Crespi High School.
"I'm very, very proud of my team. We never quit," Encino coach Jon Mack told the Los Angeles Daily News. "We kept battling back and battling back, and I'm very proud of the boys. All of them. When you're down 21 points, you can't give up in that situation even though it can be overwhelming. One play, one first down at a time, you crawl back in. ...
"You never say the 'L' word. You don't worry about anything but the next play. I'm real proud of my team. We didn't achieve all of our goals, but we get to keep playing. The kids are ecstatic, and that doesn't even begin to describe it."
The play left Notre Dame players with an opposite reaction, ending the Knights' season short of the playoffs for the first time in 25 years. Despite entering the game with a 2-7 record, the Knights could have miraculously rescued a playoff berth by beating Crespi, which would have missed out on the postseason due to an inferior league record despite a better overall mark (it is now 7-3 and 2-2).
More amazingly, the Knights were more than halfway there, holding a 28-7 edge at halftime. That's when Crespi slowly worked its way back into the game, eventually tying things up early in the fourth quarter.
All of that set the stage for the heroics you see above, and a playoff future for Crespi, at the direct expense of Notre Dame.
"I wasn't going to be stopped, no way, no how," the Daily News reported that Williams screamed on the field afterwards. "I don't care if Ray Lewis was in front of me, he was going down and I was scoring."
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- Crespi High School