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Skyline's back with upset of No. 1 Jordan

MIDVALE — As bad as the Skyline Eagles looked earlier this season, they forgot all about it Friday night.

Lanny Papanikolas threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Edgington Cruz with 31 seconds left, and then Papanikolas ran for the two-point conversion as Skyline surprised top-ranked Jordan, 36-35, in a Region 2 game.

After starting the season 0-3, Skyline has won five of its last six games and is seemingly heating up for the 5-A playoffs, which start in two weeks.

"This has to be in the top 10 (games of his career)," said longtime Skyline coach Roger Dupaix. "They had us on our heels. They are so explosive, I felt we had to go for two."

Papanikolas said he had little doubt the Eagles would prevail on the two-point conversion.

"We're on a big roll right now," he said.

Trailing 35-28, Papanikolas completed a fourth-down pass to Kalama Molisi right at the first-down marker. A penalty, however, nullified the play. Papanikolas, however, found Cruz open to silence Jordan's homecoming crowd.

"He is a playmaker," Papanikolas said of Cruz. "Wherever I throw it, I know he's going to get it."

Papanikolas then ran the option on the conversion. The senior ran for 121 yards on 14 carries, mostly on option keepers. The Beetdiggers never figured out the play.

But while Jordan couldn't stop Skyline's offense, the Eagles couldn't seem to stop Jordan either.

Jordan quarterback Chaun Cook completed four straight passes, including the last two to playmaker Cody Raymond, and the Diggers gave kicker Jacob Hustedt a 35-yard field goal try with four seconds remaining.

A poor snap, however, messed up the timing and Hustedt didn't hit the ball correctly. The ball fell harmlessly to the ground as time ran out - and Skyline fans swarmed the field.

Jordan coach Alex Jacobson, whose team barely escaped lowly Brighton last week, said his club lost the game in the first half.

The Diggers' high-powered offense scored on their first drive, but then faltered on their next two. Skyline was able to take a 14-7 lead into halftime when Papanikolas intercepted Cook's pass in the end zone in the final seconds.

Cook completed just 4 of 11 passes in the opening half, but returned to guide the team well after that. Often, he could just hand the ball to Hayden Moss and watch.

Moss, who ran for more than 250 yards last week, broke loose several times against Skyline, finishing with 214 yards on 26 carries. The Diggers scored every time they got the ball in the second half, except for the final drive.

But Skyline's offense could run the ball, too. The Eagles finished with 265 yards on the ground. Besides Papanikolas, running back Algernon Brown was a threat, finishing with 87 yards on 16 carries.

The only time Brown was stopped came in the third quarter on a 4th-and-1 play.

That defensive stand spurred the Diggers offense, as Moss scored just two plays later. Jordan's quick-strike attack was in full motion after that, and proved Skyline's decision to avoid overtime would be the right decision.