Nothing could have prepared junior Jacob Babcock for his first high school football game Friday night.
The lean but athletic soccer player-turned-kicker — who didn’t even join the team until several weeks into the season — was sent out under the Thunder Mountain High School field lights in overtime. Babcock represented TMHS coach Randy Quinto’s last opportunity in the overtime period to score points before giving Juneau-Douglas High School four stabs at tying or winning the game.
“I was freaking out, I was shaking all over,” Babcock said.
Babcock missed a 31-yard attempt two quarters earlier, but was 10 yards closer this time around. A heavy rain had just started though, and the Falcons’ snaps had been shaky most of the game. After an offsides nullified his first kick — which was good — Babcock delivered on the second, sending the Falcons to a 10-7 win over JDHS.
“I just said, ‘I’m going to make this, I’m going to put it through,’” Babcock said. “It turned out well.”
Roy Tupou ran for 102 yards and Jacob Tapia totaled 68 receiving yards in the win. The Crimson Bears’ Liam Van Sickle was held to 11 yards in the loss.
In his first game starting for injured Bubba Stults, Max Wheat completed the only touchdown pass of the game, a nine-yarder in the second quarter.
Wheat was unable to finish out the game however, hurting his shoulder late in the third quarter. Freshman Cooper Kriegmont played the entire fourth quarter at quarterback, and was inches away from winning it all.
“It was a good battle, a very good battle,” JDHS coach Kevin Hamrick said.
Instead of one team kicking off to the other to begin the overtime period, the winners of the coin toss simply decided if they want the ball or not. In regular season games, if the score remains tied after four quarters, each team is given four plays from the 10-yard line. Babcock’s field goal was TMHS’ fourth play of the overtime.
With their third and fourth plays, Hamrick let Kriegmont keep the ball on quarterback sneaks up the middle.
“We got down to the four inch line and we called a quarterback keeper and our guys said, ‘We’re in, he’s in, he’s in,’” Hamrick said. “The refs raised their hands (signaling no touchdown) so I’ll just have to watch the film,” Hamrick said.
It was a fitting ending for the Falcons’ defense, who overpowered the JDHS offensive line all game. The TMHS offense wasn’t as spectacular.
“We’d have some plays and drives that — ‘That was good’ — and then we’d shoot ourselves in the foot with an illegal procedure or jumping offsides,” Quinto said. “Our three turnovers really kept them in the game as far as field position.”
The Crimson Bears sacked Falcons quarterback Owen Mendoza deep in the backfield on each of TMHS’ first two drives.
Senior Erik Frenette provided the first highlight-reel play of the game with two minutes left in first quarter.
Wheat’s intended pass to Kasey Watts was intercepted by Frenette, who then cut back up through JDHS’ offense for a 35-yard score.
The Falcons lead was short-lived however. One possession after the touchdown, as Mendoza looked to convert a third and long, Derrick Roberts intercepted a desperation pass and returned it all but three yards from the end zone. Wheat connected with a diving Koen Schultz several plays later, tying the game up at 7-7.
“To tie up the score, that’s huge, it brings everybody back into the positive,” Hamrick said.
Neither team could take control of the game in the second half — penalities disrupted any flow of offense for both the Falcons and Crimson Bears.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.