The Monarch football team was finally challenged. And knocked from the rank of the unbeatens, too.
Douglas lined up for a possible game-winning, 31-yard field goal with two seconds left in regulation. Monarch tried to freeze Eagles kicker Mason Hall twice.
The third attempt was a bad snap, but senior Christian Higgins picked up the ball, ran to his right and his desperation pass found Brian Smith for the 21-yard game winning score for a 30-26 victory on Thursday at Douglas High.
It was the fifth consecutive win for the Eagles (3-0) over Monarch.
“My first reaction was to get out of there and find an open man,” said Higgins of the bad snap. “We practice this every day. Coach says this is a playmaking thing.”
Smith, who rushed for 134 yards on 32 carries and a touchdown, was on the receiving end of the fantastic finish.
“We practice this all the time,” Smith said. “I tried to make the play to win the game. My first instinct was getting to the end zone on the bad snap.”
Monarch (3-1) took a 26-24 lead on a Jerrell Mash 3-yard run with 3:29 to play, but the Knights missed the point after. Mash finished with 104 yards and three touchdowns.
The Knights had entered the game having outscored their much weaker opponents 139-8.
Before Monarch took the late lead, Douglas took advantage of a missed defensive assignment as quarterback Matt O’Dowd found a wide-open Jaxon Green for a 66-yard scoring pass with 8:31 left in the final quarter.
“This wasn’t how we drew it up,” Douglas coach Quentin Short said. “What a game, and we made the play at the end. Both teams play ed unbelievable. It was second time we scored like that this year.”
Monarch and its high-scoring offense took a quick 7-0 lead on the first play from scrimmage when Peter Samora found junior wide receiver Jaden Alexis on a screen play down the left sideline for a 91-yard touchdown
All that despite the Douglas defensive coaches screaming to their players to watch for a screen.
The Eagles lost a fumble on Monarch’s 5-yard line, and senior Ryan Belk sacked the Knights’ quarterback for a safety two plays later.
Following the free kick, Douglas drove 43 yards on 12 plays with Brian Smith scoring from 1-yard out for the 9-7 lead.
After the teams exchanged punts, the Knights’ Marsh needed just one play to regain the lead for his team. His 34-yard run gave Monarch a 14-9 lead.
Just as time ran out to end the first half, Mason Hall connected on a 31-yard field goal as Douglas trailed 14-12 at the break.