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After falling behind twice in the fourth quarter, Grant football rallies to win 42-41.

Grant High football coach John Beck was faced with an interesting challenge heading into the Generals' PIL showdown at Roosevelt on Friday, Oct. 15.

With the Generals at 4-0 in league and Roosevelt at 3-0, the matchup could decide the outcome of the league title.

But Beck was down numerous starters due to a positive COVID test within the team and the contact tracing that followed.

Despite the depleted roster, Grant battled Roosevelt to the very end and then some, eventually taking a 42-41 win in double overtime.

Here are three takeaways from the late-night thriller:

Next man up

Earlier on, it looked like it would be all Grant after a 78-yard kickoff return TD from senior Jae'Sean Pete put the Generals up 21-7.

However, behind running back Lindell Betts, the Rough Riders rattled off 20 unanswered points to take a 27-21 lead after the first play of the fourth quarter.

Despite the gut punch, the Generals stayed calm and collected on the sideline.

"We didn't want to get down on ourselves, we talked a lot about that," Pete said. "We knew mistakes would happen, and when the mistakes did happen, we got over them and went on to the next play and got it done."

A couple of possessions later, Pete took the first play 38 yards. Second play: 15-yard touchdown and the game was tied at 27 after a block PAT.

Betts, who finished with 168 yards rushing on 27 carries, went in for his third TD of the game for Roosevelt with 2:47 left on the clock. The Riders went for two behind Betts who stumbled into the end zone to make it 35-27.

But once again, the Generals wouldn't be denied.

Quarterback Kellen Segel broke off a big run to get down to the Riders 4-yard line and eventually sneaked in for the score.

On the ensuing 2-point try, Segel bootlegged to his right looking for an open man, but ultimately ran it himself at the corner to send the game to OT.

In OT, Grant started with the ball and was stopped, but Betts fumbled on Roosevelt's first play to end overtime No. 1.

Roosevelt scored in overtime No. 2 thanks to a pass interference call on Grant in the end zone on a 4th down play. However, the Riders went for two and didn't get it.

Then, who else but Pete would punch home the game-tying TD, and kicker Oliver Thake knocked home the winning PAT.

"We took a survey of our players yesterday and I said, 'Hey, raise your hand if you've played two years or less of football,' and probably 95% of our kids raised their hand who were going to play in this game today," Beck said. "That's a testament to these kids, and it's a testament to all these assistant coaches who just worked so hard with them."

Senior standouts

With so many players, Grant had no choice but to rely on the few seniors it did still have available, two of them being Pete and Max von Arx.

Von Arx caught the first touchdown of the game on a 9-yard reception and had a hand in really every phase of the ball.

Whether is was von Arx knocking down a pass from Roosevelt QB Imarion Kelly or rushing the ball twice for two runs over 10 yards, the senior was everywhere.

Pete was as well with 135 rushing yards and three TDs, as well as the interception on the Riders' 2-point try in the second overtime and the 78-yard kickoff return.

"(Pete) and Max von Arx, they're three-year starters, they've been there, done that, and they play at a high level in multiple sports," Beck said. "They just kind of willed it to go. It was kind of like Imarion and Lindell for Roosevelt. … Our guys just found a way to get it done at the end."

Segel, a junior QB, held it down under center as well with 151 yards passing going 13 for 26 with one TD pass, one rushing TD and one interception that was made by Roosevelt's Jake Bowler.

With those three leading the way for an inexperienced crew, von Arx described it as a learning experience. But the lesson couldn't have been sweeter.

"Our coaches are fantastic, they do a great job of trying to teach them, and we do our best job to help the coaches coach the players," von Arx said. "That clearly happened in this game, almost all of our starters were out. … They showed what they can do."

PIL title?

Last week, Roosevelt knocked off Jefferson to stay unbeaten in the PIL at 3-0 while Grant came into Friday 4-0 in league play.

Now at 5-0 with only Jefferson (4-3, 3-1 PIL) left on the schedule, the Generals are one win away from a PIL title and are sitting in first alone now.

For Roosevelt, a playoff spot still looks to be secured as it sits in the three-way race atop the PIL with Grant and Jefferson and the top three spots earning bids.

Before Grant gets to battle Jefferson though, it will be at home against Barlow next week.

"We're just happy, we're just excited," Pete said. "We're moving on to next week, we have a Barlow team, a non-league team. I know it'll be a hard game, and we're also going to grind it out that week and get another W."

And while Barlow may be the next opponent on the schedule, it's only natural to look ahead to Jefferson.

Hopefully, this time the Generals will have a full roster, but if Friday proved anything, it doesn't matter who suits up in the blue and gray, Grant will be ready to go.

"I think, after this game, it shows that if we can do it without all of our people that when we have all of our people we're not going to lose the rest of the season," von Arx said. "We're hoping to smack up Barlow again like last year.

"And of course Jeff, we're going for heads that game."

Austin White
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