Putnam rallies to 30-24 OT win over St. Helens, closes on high note
Putnam persevered all night and then prevailed in dramatic fashion Friday night, finishing its football season with a 30-24 overtime victory over St. Helens.
The Kingsmen never led until the final play, an 8-yard run by senior Caleb Tovey.
Three times Putnam came back from a 10-point deficit to tie the score. The final time came when the Kingsmen drove 69 yards without a timeout in 2:34 and got a 22-yard field goal from senior Steve Sanchez with five seconds left.
That sent the teams to OT, tied at 24-24 in the Class 5A Special District 1 crossover game.
St. Helens lost the coin toss and wound up with the ball first in the extra session. After starting from their opponent's 25-yard line, the Lions fumbled on their second play. The ball bounced forward nearly 15 yards before sophomore cornerback Jason Crowe was able to secure it for Putnam at the 9.
The Kingsmen then went to work on offense, needing a field goal or touchdown to win.
"At that point, I knew we were going to win," said Putnam's senior quarterback, Marcellas Kenion, who said he thought he broke his right (passing) thumb in the first quarter. "I had just prayed to God, and I knew we were going to come through. It was all business at that point. We just had to execute."
Putnam senior Jadden Hall — who ran for three TDs, including a 91-yard romp midway through the third quarter — carried on the first three Kingsmen snaps in OT — rushing inside for seven, six and four yards.
That gave Putnam second-and-goal from the 8. The Kingsmen then called their "tag" play — a counter to the left on a handoff to Tovey, who had missed most of the season with a stress fracture in a foot and a leg injury.
"He said, 'Coach, I want to get in, I want to do this,'" Putnam coach Tim Jacobs said.
Tovey darted toward the sideline, turned on the jets and had just enough clear sailing to get past the left pylon.
And with that, the Kingsmen claimed their second win of the season, and their first victory since they beat Milwaukie 43-14 on Sept. 13.
"Oh, my gosh, it didn't work the whole time, but it worked that one play — I can't believe it," Tovey said of his counter. "I just sprinted as hard as I could to the end zone. At first I didn't think I was going to make it. I saw a linebacker right on my tail, but I barely stiff-armed him enough to get to the outside."
Tears of joy flowed in the celebrations that followed on the field as the Putnam players ended a 2-6 season and the seniors capped their career.
"When I saw (Tovey) cross that plane, it was the greatest feeling in the world," Kenion said.
"We wanted this game," Hall said. "This game meant so much to all of us."
St. Helens was subdued after suffering its fifth consecutive defeat and wrapping up a 2-7 season.
The Lions led 10-0 after one quarter, 17-7 at the half and 24-14 in the third quarter.
"Half a yard here or there. It's tough," Lions coach Cory Young said. "You learn from it. There are a lot of plays in a football game. And there were a lot of plays tonight you could look at, and it was the culmination of them that made the difference.
"We made some plays, too. We did a lot of good things. We threw the ball better than we have all year. We put ourselves in a position to win the game. Putnam just made a few more plays at the end."
Late in the third quarter, Putnam went 67 yards for a touchdown to get within 24-21. By then, the Kingsmen had started to get into a groove with their ground game.
"Once we got going, we were able to find our rhythm and were able to move the ball," Jacobs said.
Key plays in that third-quarter drive included a 27-yard run by Hall and a fourth-and-20 pass from Kenion to senior Sam Sholty that covered 34 yards to the 1 and set up Hall's third TD blast.
"In the second half, we just started pushing it, running up the gut, and they couldn't stop us," Hall said.
The Lions had their chances to put the game away, but the Kingsmen came up with some big defensive plays that enabled them to stay alive.
Arguably the biggest was with 2:39 left in the fourth quarter. St. Helens was inches away from picking up a first down that probably would have enabled it to run out the clock. But, after getting runs of 19 and 14 yards for first downs from junior Jakobi Allen and picking up another first down on a 6-yard pass from junior QB Jakob Robbins to senior wide receiver Wes Bigham on third-and-5, the Lions faced fourth-and-1 at the Putnam 26.
Allen took the handoff into the right side of offensive line, but Putnam plugged the hole and held him just short of the marker.
Still, the Kingsmen needed some more big plays on offense and had to do it in hurry-up fashion.
"Not easy to do as a wing-T team," Jacobs said.
Kenion was key on two huge gainers — a 33-yard pass to Sholty to the St. Helens 28 and a 20-yard QB scramble to the 8. On the latter play, Kenion was able to get out of bounds and stop the clock with 38 seconds remaining.
St. Helens' defense tackled Hall for a loss of one yard, then broke up a coule of pass attempts, which left Putnam needing Sanchez to come through on fourth-and-goal with the biggest kick of his life. He made it with five seconds to spare.
Sanchez had missed the past few football games due to a sprained knee he suffered playing soccer for Putnam.
"There was a lot of pressure. My whole team was relying on me," Sanchez said. "I just turned off everything in my mind and focused on what was going to happen. I knew I had to make it — there was no failing."
Before the game, Jacobs and his coaching staff had the seniors talk to the rest of the team "about what this game meant to them and about playing football at Rex Putnam. It was a really powerful moment that I think galvanized everyone."
"We just kept fighting and fighting. That's what we've been doing all year," Kenion said. "It finally paid off.
"I'm glad this is the one we ended on. This whole team has been my family. I love everyone. It's been great."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.