Down two touchdowns to Timpview and also down its starting quarterback, No. 1 Skyridge found itself facing legitimate adversity for the first time this season on Friday night.
For the uber-talented Falcons — who outscored their first four opponents this season 191-14 — there was no panic despite the early hole.
Back-up QB Trent Call made the plays when he needed to and Skyridge’s elite defense played lights out after the early deficit as it rallied for the 20-13 victory in a game played at Mountain View High School because of construction at Timpview.
The win helped Skyridge improve to 5-0 in the battle of unbeaten heavyweights, and Skyridge coach Jon Lehman said the way his team won more than the win itself is what he’s most proud of.
“I think our guys had to dig deep tonight and they had to trust each other and believe in some really tough moments. I think that’s what I’ll take away from this win, it’s not that we got another win, but that our guys had to really fight for that win. It’s a really satisfying thing for us,” Lehman said.
Down 13-0 near the end of the first half, Skyridge cut it to 13-7 by halftime, tied it on a Pick Six to start the second half and then went ahead for good early in the fourth quarter on a Call touchdown run.
Call finished with one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown in a huge moment for the senior back-up.
“This one was personal to a lot of our team. The hype of the game, the opposing team, it was personal to all of us. We wanted to show everyone that we’re the best team in the state,” Call said.
He was thrust into the limelight when Skyridge starting QB McCae Hillstead sprained his ankle on the third play of the game. The three-year starter returned for one play later in the quarter after getting his ankle taped, but he was clearly hobbled and was reduced to spectator the rest of the game.
Lehman said he wasn’t surprised Call excelled in his temporary role because that challenge is something he tries to instill in his players every single day.
“We talk about loving the challenge and when things get tough we get more excited, bind together, love each other and we fight. That was the message were talking about going into this game because this is obviously a great opponent, and we weren’t necessarily talking about guys getting injured or those types of things being the challenges that were coming at us.
“But that’s what happened, and really proud of Trent going in and playing QB and keeping the team together,” Lehman said.
It did take Call and Skyridge’s offense a while to settle down as its first four drives resulted in three punts and a fumble.
During that stretch, Timpview’s offense did all of its damage as it showcased its ability to play big boy football against the stingiest defense in the state.
Quarterback Quezon Villa scored on a pair of rushing touchdowns on consecutive second-quarter drives — 49 yards and 1 yard — which capped scoring drives of 89 and 70 yards respectively.
Suddenly up 13-0 and with as well as its defense was playing, Timpview looked poised to pull off the upset of 6A’s best team.
Unfortunately for Timpview, its offense couldn’t replicate that success the rest of the game. It had six more possessions, which resulted in three turnovers and a total of eight first downs.
Conversely, Skyridge’s offense and defense each started to improve as the game wore on feeding off the momentum they created for each other.
The key drive of the game was Skyridge’s ensuing drive after going down 13-0 with 4:56 remaining in the first half.
Call led his team on a nine-play scoring drive, capping it with a pinpoint eight-yard touchdown pass to Cannon Jensen with 2:02 left in the half cutting the deficit to 13-7.
“I got out of the pocket and I went to my guy Cannon Jensen, he’s got strong hands and I just had to put it up there and I knew Cannon Jensen would come down with it,” Call said.
Skyridge’s defense got in on the scoring on the first play of the second half. Colin Sheffield stepped in front of a quick slant pass, intercepting the ball and returning it 19 yards for the score tying the game 13-13 after the missed extra point.
“Collin is an exceptionally smart football player and he trusts what his eyes are telling him and made an awesome play on the ball and finished it,” Lehman said.
Skyridge’s offense was forced to punt on its first possession of the second half, but on its second drive it showcased its brand of power football. It marched 66 yards in 11 plays, a drive Call put a punctuation mark on with a three-yard touchdown run putting his team ahead 20-13 with 9:12 remaining in the game.
Timpview responded with its best offensive series since the first half moving the ball to Skyridge’s 27 yard line, but it couldn’t convert on fourth and three with 5:24 left in the game. The T-Birds’ offense never touched the ball again as Skyridge ran out the clock with four first downs.
“What I saw from them was a bunch of dudes who looked in each others eyes and said let’s go play football,” Lehman said. “There was no doubt, no there was no fear, there was just confidence and they went and played a great game.”