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Wildcats stun Channelview, 41-39, on last-second FG

September 16, 2018

There’s every reason to religiously practice the two-minute offense, but when only 35 seconds remain, it takes on a greater sense of urgency.

Clear Creek quarterback Hunter Smith guided his team on a last-ditch drive from the Wildcat 41-yard line deep into Channelview territory before junior kicker Christian Hernandez kicked a 24-yard field goal as time expired for a heart-stopping 41-39 Wildcat victory at Challenger Columbia Stadium.

The victory helped ease the sting of last week’s 50-48 Creek loss to Deer Park in which the Deer rallied from a 41-18 deficit in the second half.

This time, it was Creek pulling off the late-game heroics.

Channelview appeared in great shape after it had driven 59 yards for a touchdown with 35 seconds left on a 30-yard pass from Mack Perry to Devin Jennings for a 39-38 lead. The try for two came up just inches short of the goal line when Falcon quarterback Zion Webb couldn’t quite stretch into the end zone.

Channelview then delivered a pooch kick, which was fair caught at the Wildcat 41-yard line, meaning no time ran off the clock.

On first down, Smith rolled to his right and heaved the ball downfield, but was intercepted by LaMarcus Webb, who eventually returned the ball 70 yards for what the Falcons believed to be a touchdown. However, Webb had been whistled for interference even before he made the catch.

Still, almost 14 seconds ran off the clock because of the lengthy return.

After the penalty was assessed to the Falcon 44, Smith then sprinted to his right again, and once more threw the ball deep downfield. Wildcat senior wide receiver Pete Miller went high between two Falcon defenders and to make an acrobatic catch at the Falcon 9 yard line.

Creek (2-1) immediately called time out with seven seconds left. Smith then took a 3-yard loss to the 12-yard line but he moved the ball to the center of the field for Hernandez’s kick.

Channelview was then penalized for delay of game, advancing the ball to the 7.

Hernandez, with four seconds remaining, split the uprights on the next snap as time expired.

“I knew I had to come down with it,” Miller said of his catch. “The game was on the line. There were 20 seconds left and we had to make a big play and get the big score.

“When we went into the huddle, we said there’s nothing left. This is all we’ve got, so let’s leave it all out there. This is huge, a big confidence booster as we get closer and closer to district. We’re going in the right direction.”

Smith, who rushed 19 times for 154 yards and a touchdown while throwing a 26-yard TD strike to Liam Gunter while only playing about half the game, said the strategy on the game-winning drive was simple.

“Our goal was to get first downs and get the ball out of bounds,” the senior signal-caller said. “Pete wasn’t really open, but he made a heck of a catch.

“It was really big for us to come back in the second half, considering Deer Park came back on us. We’re really starting to show how we’ve grown as a team.”

Creek head coach Dwayne Lane wasn’t surprised that Smith and Miller prevailed in the clutch.

“A lot of people say that Hunter Smith isn’t fast enough and throws side-arm,” Lane said. “They say Peter Miller runs good routes, but he’s not fast enough.

“I can tell you that all they do is make plays. They both have that intangible no matter what sport they’re playing. They have confidence they’re going to make the play, and it showed right there at the end of the game.

“We got enough protection from our line, and they made it work. A lot of people doubt our kids’ abilities, but we (coaches) don’t.”

The game’s verdict was in doubt from start to finish. Neither team could create a substantial lead or protect it.

Channelview lead 9-0 early, highlighted by a 98-yard touchdown run by Kadarius Taylor.

Creek regained the lead at 14-9 by the end of the first quarter on a 7-yard run by Smith and a 29-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Dry to Miller.

Channelview seized the edge at 19-14, before Hernandez connected on another field goal as time expired. This one was a 32-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter to pull Creek within 19-17.

Hernandez would make three field goals in the second half. He was true from 21 and 31 yards with the latter coming with 11:49 left for a 30-26 Wildcat edge.

Channelview, however, responded with a 10-play, 68-yard TD drive to retake the lead at 33-30 on Travon Chandler’s 14-yard TD run.

Creek’s defense would later swarm Channelview’s Taylor in the end zone for a safety to pull within 33-32 with 5:05 left.

Following the free kick, the Wildcats moved 64 yards in nine plays to take a 38-33 edge with just 1:49 showing.

That left plenty of time for Channelview to move ahead 39-38 in just four plays to set up the game-ending heroics by the Wildcats.

“Last week was tough - we had that one in hand and couldn’t find a way to finish,” Lane said. “This is something to build on. We’ve been on both sides of it now.

“The kids know the feeling. We practice this hurry-up offense, spiking the ball and calling timeouts. This gives us a lot of confidence moving forward.”

Creek will likely need its potent offense again next Friday in Veterans Memorial Stadium in League City.

The Wildcats host Katy Tompkins, which on Friday defeated Alvin, 70-7.

tdunnam@hcnonline.com

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