One play. That’s all it would take for the Broncs to respond.
After a Jackson score with less than a minute remaining, Chaz Cowie responded with touchdown reception on the first play from scrimmage to give the Cody football team a 19-15 homecoming win over Jackson on Friday night.
After brushing by a few Jackson defenders Cowie found a home behind blocker Matt Sandoval and beyond him, open field.
“Everyone was yelling at me to run out of bounds,” Cowie said. “I was pretty much thinking, go go go, touchdown, we need it.”
With a leaping dive Cowie sneaked through the front corner of the end zone as his teammates and crowd leapt to their feet.
Earlier in that quarter Sandoval had gone down with a cramp. After limping to the sideline he started stretching with a furious pace and with two minutes left, he was already back on the field.
“Just got to keep fighting,” Sandoval said.
Drew Trotter scored two touchdowns for 87 all-purpose yards while Hunter Hays was 7-for-15 passing for 92 yards, but this game was all about defense.
The Broncs went more than two quarters without scoring but the defense held Jackson at bay just long enough for the win.
Jackson had the top 3A offense entering Friday’s game but the Broncs held them to 265 total yards – 188 yards less than their season average.
“It was a true team win, they executed the game plan to perfection,” coach Matt McFadden said.
Trotter said the boys were tuned in all week for the big homecoming matchup.
“Going into it we had a really good week of practice,” Trotter said. “It feels good, it was our toughest opponent so far.”
That focus continued through game day Friday with the homecoming parade setting the stage for an evening on the gridiron.
“Ever since like, the start of the JV game we were locked in,” Cowie said. “Everyone was doing their own thing, getting mentally prepared. As soon as we stepped on that field we were ready to play.”
The teams played to a scoreless, hard-hitting first quarter that set the tune for the rest of the night.
At 8:15 in the second, Keaton Stone recovered a Jackson fumble after a Cody pass rush. The turnover set the Broncs up nicely at the Jackson 28.
At 6:49 Cody got its first score on a Trotter rush.
On a fourth-and-9 play Hays was chased to the sideline but still got a pass off. Trotter reversed his route back upfield to haul in the wobbling throw for a big 16-yard reception to keep the drive alive. On the next play, Trotter rushed it in from 10 yards to go up 6-0. Jackson Gail missed the PAT.
At 3:02 in the second, the Broncs made another big fourth-down play, this time for a score. Trotter swooped through a massive hole in the Jackson defensive line for a 26-yard rushing TD. Sandoval came up just short on a two-point conversion rushing attempt and it was 12-0 Cody.
Jeydon Cox got Jackson’s first score at 6:11 in the third on a fourth down play to cut the deficit to 12-7 after the PAT.
The Broncs offense started to stall in the second half. On one drive Cody pushed all the way to the Jackson 9, but still could not convert.
Jackson pushed deep into Cody territory with 5:18 left in the game but Trotter made a huge pass breakup on fourth down to kill the drive.
The Broncs however, could not get a first down on the next drive and Jackson was returned the ball at 2:54. In a manner of a few plays the opponent cruised across midfield.
A Cody pass interference put the ball at the 19-yard line and Cox ran it in for the lead. As bad of timing as the infraction was, it was only the second Cody penalty of the game, a major area of improvement for the Broncs since week one.
After Cox ran it in again on the two-point conversion it was 15-12 with 41.9 seconds left.
Cox finished the night with 150 total yards and two touchdowns.
“Their tailback is the real deal,” McFadden said. “I was extremely happy with the way we contained him.”
Entering Friday’s contest Cox was averaging a 3A best 224 yards per game and had nine TDs through three games.
After a big Trotter kick return past midfield, it was the Broncs’ turn to shine.
With 24.1 seconds remaining and the ball on the Jackson 48, Cowie ran a 5-yard slant route to the left side of the field. As he caught the pass and started angling toward the sideline to stop the clock, he saw his opportunity to score and took it.
“So, I was screaming at him to get out of bounds,” McFadden said with a laugh, “but when you have an open field and Cowie with the ball in that situation, it forces you to think differently because you’re trying to get a position to get in the end zone.”
Cowie led the team with 110 total yards in addition to the game-winning score.
“It feels amazing, I would never change it,” he said.
A Tristan Blatt interception with 4.6 seconds left sealed the win with the Broncs improving to 4-0 on the season after taking down the No. 3 team in 3A football.
The second-ranked Broncs will return to action next Friday on the road against Evanston (0-4) with a 7 p.m. kickoff.