Fife’s Jalani Jennings completed a bomb to Wes Nixon on fourth-and-seven for a 36-yard touchdown pass with 49 seconds remaining.
And Franklin Pierce’s 31-point lead was down to two.
“I thought we were going to win the game right there,” Fife coach Kent Nevin said.
Then Nixon caught a tipped pass on the left edge of the end zone for the two-point conversion.
Only it was barely too far over the edge.
And eighth-ranked Franklin Pierce somehow staved off Fife’s furious second-half comeback to win, 45-43, in a game considered for the de facto 2A South Puget Sound League Mountain title on Friday at Fife High School.
“It was really just stress relief everywhere,” Franklin Pierce coach Mickey Ahrens said of the failed two-point conversion. “Our guys fought so hard. I was so proud of them that they didn’t give up.
“I knew we would find a way to win in the end.”
This was a game in which Franklin Pierce (4-1) once led 38-7.
So Fife went to work.
Jackson Cooley ran 28 yards for his second touchdown and Fife’s ensuing kickoff resulted in a safety when the FP returner bobbled it and backed himself into the end zone.
So Fife got the ball back … ending in another touchdown.
Now it’s 38-22.
But Franklin Pierce’s Alex Bing caught his second receiving touchdown from Willie Patterson, this one for 21 yards.
Patterson, the reigning 2A SPSL MVP, was 14 of 24 passing for 264 yards and four touchdowns, and he ran 11 times for 151 yards, and — as if he wasn’t contributing enough while also playing on defense — he returned a punt 92 yards for a touchdown.
That helped give Franklin Pierce a 35-7 lead at halftime.
“In the second half, I think we got complacent a little bit,” Patterson said. “And the momentum switched. The momentum shift was crazy. Everything was going bad.”
Fife ended the game with three unanswered touchdowns.
One came after Stoney Shafer’s fumble on a 14-yard run. Another after Patterson threw an interception in the end zone — a play that came just after Patterson’s apparent TD pass to Bing was called back on a holding penalty.
Fife took over on that final drive, trailing 45-37, from its own 20 late in the fourth quarter. Jennings capped it with the improbable touchdown pass on fourth down to Nixon.
The Trojans (4-1) had to go for the two-point conversion. Jennings first threw incomplete, but Patterson was called for defensive holding.
The second try was so close, but the officials ruled not close enough on Nixon’s tipped-grab catch that was barely out of bounds.
“That was tough,” Nevin said. “Our film showed his foot in. But that’s a tough situation.”
Jennings was 11 of 22 passing for 144 yards. He entered the game with 28 passes in the previous four games combined. Nixon had 90 rushing yards and 65 receiving yards with three total touchdowns.
This was a game Fife had no business trying to win after that first half.
“Honestly, we just decided to play,” Nevin said. “At halftime, we said, ‘What are you going to do? Are you going to lay down? Or are you going to fight?’
“Then they (the players) were saying, ‘We’re going to fight, we are going to give everything, we are going to give everything as a team.’ I didn’t say that, they did.”
Said Ahrens: “We talked before the game that adversity was going to come. We didn’t know when —and it ended up coming late.”
FP – Scotland Vise 2 run (Cameron Bowdish kick)
FP – Willie Patterson 92 punt return (Bowdish kick)
F – Jackson Cooley 2 run (Jacob Nist kick)
FP – Alex Bing 37 pass from Patterson (Bowdish kick)
FP – Mason Starling 13 pass from Patterson (Bowdish kick)
FP – Stoney Shafer 12 pass from Patterson (Bowdish kick)
FP – Bowdish 35 field goal
F – Cooley 28 run (run failed)
F – safety
F – Wes Nixon 28 run (Nist kick)
FP – Bing 21 pass from Patterson (Bowdish kick)
F – Falani Jennings 6 run (Nist kick)
F – Nixon 2 pass from Jennings (Nixon run)
F – Nixon 36 pass from Jennings (pass failed)
RUSHING – FP: Willie Patterson 11-151; Stoney Shafer 12-86. Fife: Wes Nixon 18-90; Jackson Cooley 14-79; Xavier Preston 8-30; Jalani Jennings 5-18.
PASSING – FP: Willie Patterson 14-24-1-264. Fife: Jalani Jennings 11-22-0-144.
RECEIVING – FP: Alex Bing 6-149; Mason Starling 5-79; Stoney Shafer 3-34. Fife: Jackson Cooley 5-73; Wes Nixon 4-65.