The Wildcats persevered against the Churchill offense, scored late to seal the deal

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Senior Jonah Gomez (23) stands at the head of the team as they face the flag. Gomez and Overholt connected for several big passes, including the game winning touchdown in the 57-50 win over Churchill on Friday, Sept. 8. WILSONVILLE — Over the stadium loudspeaker at 9:34 of the second quarter, with the game tied 21-21, the Wilsonville play by play announcer said what the roaring crowd was already thinking: "This one is a barnburner." With the better part of three quarters still to play, no one knew just how much crazier it would get.

Fast forward to the end of the game, you have senior wide receiver Jonah Gomez standing in the end zone with the ball in hand, celebrating with offense, the game winning score now on the board. Less than four seconds are on the board, and in close proximity is the score. After junior kicker Jacob Haussermann put the point after through the uprights, it was final with Wilsonville besting Churchill 57-50 on Friday, Sept. 8.

It's hard to tell where the game defining plays were, given that the momentum swung so often that it almost expected. There were a few plays though, that rose above the rest.

After falling behind in the first quarter 14-0, it was Wilsonville's senior quarter Nathan Overholt who helped put the Wildcats on the board. Working behind his offensive line, Overholt connected with senior wide receiver Sam Westing at 6:17 of the first quarter. With the PAT, the Wildcats were trailing 14-7. After the Wilsonville defense forced a Churchill punt later in the quarter, Overholt once again took over and marched his team into Lancer territory.

From the Churchill four-yard line, Overholt scrambled right out of the pocket, and made a break for the end zone. Lunging forward with arm outstretched, Overholt snuck the ball inside the pylon for the second Wilsonville touchdown of the night. After a Haussermann kick, the game was tied up at 14-14 at 1:10 of the first quarter.

Fast forward into the second quarter, the Churchill offense picked up another touchdown courtesy of a senior quarterback Demontre Thomas II run from eight yards out. Churchill regained control 21-14.

Wilsonville was not deterred. In just six plays the Wildcats worked their way to the Churchill 34-yard line to set up the scoring play. Overholt once again connected with Westing, this time as the wide receiver was cutting across the middle of the field. Breaking tackles, the 6 foot, 3 inch senior made his way into the end zone for his second of three touchdowns on the night.

The two teams would trade touchdown drives for a majority of the game, rarely breaking from that cycle. Churchill would move into the lead, and Wilsonville would bring it back to a tie.

It was late into the second quarter when that trend would change. Churchill had scored twice more, and Westing had put his third touchdown on the board to bring the game to 35-28 tally for the Lancers. The Wildcats were on the goal line when the horn blew for an abbreviated half time (shortened due to a lightning delay).

Wilsonville regained control of the ball to start the second half and tied the game up once again after an eight play, 62-yard drive. Overholt found senior Zach Rivers in the right hand corner of the endzone on a 23-yard pass that would enable the Wildcats to tie it up at 35-35. Churchill took possession of the ball again, and looked to once again get a leg up on the home team.

Except this time, that didn't happen. After 11 plays, and with both a passing and running game coming up empty against the Wilsonville defense, Churchill turned the ball over on downs. There was a shift in momentum, and the Wilsonville offense pounced. In just six plays, Wilsonville marched 76 yards and scored its second pair of consecutive touchdowns of the game. At 3:19 of the third quarter, Overholt hit senior Isaiah Haqq down the left hand side of the field from 35 yards out to give the Wildcats their first lead of the night. Haussermann made good on the extra point attempt, and Wilsonville led by seven, 42-35.

For their part, Churchill would not be denied a second consecutive time. After getting the ball on the Wilsonville one-yard line due to a poor snap, the Lancers scored on the ensuing drive. Thomas II ran the ball in with just 1:05 to go in the third quarter. The game was again tied up, this time at 42.

In the ensuing Wilsonville possession, the offense was unable to get anything going due to penalties and incompletions in the air. After punting the ball away to Churchill, it seemed like the tide was once again turning.

Senior Kevin Burke had something else in mind though. Three plays into the Churchill drive, Thomas II was looking for one of his receivers down the left hand side of the field, but instead found Burke. After making the interception, Burke cut across the field, breaking tackles before finally crossing the goal line and putting the home team back up. It was 49-42 for the Wildcats.

Both teams were unable to score on the ensuing possessions, and when Churchill got the ball back, it only had 3:26 left on the clock with which to work. Starting from its own 34 yard line, the Lancers methodically moved down the field and made the most of the possession. Thomas II connected with senior Elijah Fields for the touchdown with just 53.8 seconds left in the game. After a 2-point conversion that was successful, the Lancers had the lead with less than one minute to go.

The game seemed decided at that point, but with the time left on the board Wilsonville still had not given up hope. Astoundingly, the Wildcats got eight plays off, converted on a fourth and 10, and managed to get the ball down to the Churchill 9-yard line. With less than 10 seconds on the clock, Overholt hit Westing in the end zone, but the ball was deflected away right into the waiting hands of the aforementioned Jonah Gomez. Wilsonville scored, and Haussermann put the extra point through to make it official. Wilsonville had beaten the 2017 state finalist 57-50 in the early front runner for game of the year.

With the win, Wilsonville moves to 2-0 on the season. Looking ahead to the start of league play, the Wildcats will former 6A school Cleveland (0-2) on Friday, Sept. 14. Churchill falls to 1-1, and will square off with Willamette (0-2) next Friday.

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