By Jeremy McDonald
ADAIR VILLAGE, Ore.– What seemed to be a cruise on the road against Santiam Christian after the first quarter turned into a dogfight to advance in the remaining 36 minutes of the game.
The Crusaders jumped out to a 14-0 lead only to have a 21-14 lead by halftime as both teams traded blows entering the fourth quarter.
The Eagles turned a Colton Daniels interception into a game-tying score with 4:36 left in the game.
The Scoreboard read: Santiam Christian 28, Salem Academy 28 as the Crusaders took over control of the ball.
There was electricity in the air. The high-pace Salem Academy offense versus a stout Eagle defense.
“I don’t even know if I could describe it,” said Daniels. “I mean just the feeling of having the entire team behind your back and then putting you on a pedestal to lead them and do that thing in the last drive was just…I don’t know it’s indescribable.”
Slowly, methodically almost, the line of the Crusaders were winning upfront and gave time for Daniels to set up his passes and receivers to run the routes as well giving holes for Grant Webb to run through as time runs under a minute.
Both teams were digging in harder than ever as pressure mounted on both teams to execute to stop one and overcome the other as the Jumbo/Full House package came out with roughly 30 seconds left and downs to score.
Hunter BeDoya, who had two big plays in the fourth quarter on defensive, lined up as Fullback and described the next play.
“I was just thinking, ‘we just have to punch this in’,” described BeDoya. “’We got four tries though, but it’s better to do it in one’ and we did so it was great.”
The play, Daniels fakes a handoff and rolls to the other side and out in the flats was Rylan Stamback.
Daniels throws and Stamback catches it as he crossed the goal line for the lead with 20 seconds remaining.
“I thought we had the game, but at the same time there’s 20 seconds left and we can’t let down,” said Daniels on the score.
And behind BeDoya and the defense, they denied Santiam Christian a chance for possibly the win late.
The feelings of the game was the same…one of the most competitive games that the Crusaders have played in.
“It was probably the best game I’ve played in my life,” said BeDoya. “It kept coming back-and-forth, it was the most competitive game I’ve ever played in my life.”
“It’s the greatest feeling ever, we played an amazing game,” added Daniels. “Santiam played an amazing game and we fought through. We had a lot of adversity tonight…and for our young guys come through and play like that was amazing. It was absolutely amazing.”
For the first time since 1989, Salem Academy finds themselves in the OSAA 3A Semi-Final Game against their heated rival:
Blanchet Catholic, and there’s excitement in the air about the game that goes above the average rivalry game.
“There just another team, you can’t look at them like Blanchet and they’re our rival,” said Daniels. “You just have to look at it as another team and another game. It’s Semis so it’s going to be hyped up, but it’s just another game and we just got to play Football and we got to play our football, not let them get into our heads.”
It should be a dandy of a game that’s for sure.
Kickoff is at 11am at Cottage Grove High School in Cottage Grove, winner plays Harrisburg-Coquille/Pacific
Follow Jeremy McDonald on Twitter @J_McDonald81 or like jmcdonaldmedia on Facebook!
Free Photos By Jeremy McDonald