For the Green Valley Gators, it was déjà vu all over again.
For the first time in school history, Green Valley has won back-to-back league championships. And for the second straight year, it came down to a last-second game-winning field by UNLV-bound placekicker Conor Perkins.
Perkins drilled his third game-winning kick of the season and fourth in the span of a calendar year, this one a 39-yarder with 2.3 seconds remaining, to give the Gators (6-2, 4-0) a 44-43 victory over host Canyon Springs (7-1, 3-1) and at least a share of the Northeast Division title with one game to go.
If the ending sounds familiar, it should. Canyon Springs also lost to Green Valley a year earlier in similar fashion, 33-32, on a 37-yard field goal by Perkins with 3.2 seconds left.
It’s a script the Gators, who defeated Las Vegas, 39-38, on a 37-yard field by Perkins as time expired on Oct. 11 and edged Palo Verde in overtime, 42-41, on a PAT by Perkins on Sept. 20, have seen a few other times this season.
“It never gets old,” Perkins said. “This is what all kickers live for right here, to get a game-winner. And I’m lucky enough to have three.”
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“It’s not just a testament to him – he’s a hell of a kicker – but it’s a testament to our team as a whole,” Green Valley coach Brian Castro said. “If we didn’t get some stops on defense when we need to, and if we didn’t move the ball and get down there to give ourselves a chance, then he wouldn’t have had a chance. It was a great team win for sure.”
Indeed, there were plenty of stars besides Perkins for Green Valley on this night including:
* Junior wide receiver Jacob Tomlin, who blocked the PAT attempt to keep it a two-point game after Pioneers’ QB Bradley Alexander II connected with Kyhren Howard for a 4-yard touchdown pass to give Canyon Springs a 43-41 lead with 4:07 remaining.
* Quarterback Christian Lopez passed for a pair of touchdowns and ran for three more and calmly directed the game-winning 62-yard drive that stayed alive … barely … on a 1-yard swing pass from Lopez to running back Larry Norman Jr. on 4th-and-1 at the Pioneers 41 for a first down.
* Norman finished with 171 yards on 30 carries and powered his way for one very tough yard for the key first down on the swing pass from Lopez on the game-winning drive.
* And Oregon-bound senior lineman Tyrell Crosby, besides coming up with a number of key plays on defense, had perhaps the play of the game when the 6-foot-7, 300-pound left tackle snatched a fumble by wide receiver Kyler Chavez that had popped up into the air after a hard hit and then rambled 29-yards for a touchdown to cut Canyon Springs’ lead to 23-20.
“I just saw the ball pop up so I grabbed it and just ran,” Crosby said. “I was speechless. I didn’t know what to do. It was crazy.”
It was the first high school touchdown for Crosby who said he was timed at 5.3 in the forty as a sophomore but appeared quite a bit faster than that as he outran several Pioneer players to the end zone.
“I’ve definitely gotten faster since then,” Crosby said with a big smile.
Crosby leaves Friday morning for his official recruiting trip to Oregon where he will be hosted by former Arbor View star Elijah George and take in the key Pac-12 game between the Ducks and UCLA.
“That was going through my head like crazy,” Crosby said. “I didn’t want to go up to Oregon sad that we lost. I’m so excited.”
Junior running back Zaviontay Stevenson led Canyon Springs with 122 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries while completed 13-of-20 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown.
Green Valley concludes its regular season next Friday at home against Silverado (3-5, 2-2) while Canyon Springs travels to Las Vegas (5-3, 3-1).
VIDEO BY BARRY WONG