That resolve paid off immediately – and in stunning fashion.
With 21 seconds left and trailing 21-19, Evans quarterback Matlin Marshall rolled right and hit to Joacinto Grimes on a 45-yard touchdown pass. Grimes, who caught it at the 15, sprinted in for the game-winning score with 16 seconds left as the Knights shocked the Panthers, 26-21.
That play topped a chaotic final minute that saw the Knights (5-4, 3-3 Region 2-AAAAA) score a touchdown on a Ronnie Graham 8-yard run with 50 seconds remaining to close to within two points, only to be followed by a failed two-point conversion before the Knights’ Sean Vandiver dove on the onside kick – giving them a final chance.
A choked-up Evans coach Marty Jackson said, “The surest way to be successful is to try one more time, and I think they believe it."
The Panthers (6-3, 4-2) had the ball inside the Knights’ 10 twice in the fourth quarter, but stalled and two field goals missed. Panthers head coach Jarrett Troxler was just as emotional after the game.
“I told them I love them, they played their hearts out and we didn’t take advantage of opportunities when we had it inside there to score twice,” he said. “We didn’t score and that could have (put) the game away.”
The Panthers had a chance to play for a home playoff game next week, but now the picture is muddled.