Blessed Trinity Titans quarterback Duncan Reavis was all too familiar with the play call that came in during the game's final seconds. It was a roll-out pass play that he'd been working hard to execute in practice, but kept coming up short. In a previous game, he threw an interception return for a touchdown on the play.
But with the Titans trailing late and needing a touchdown against the Denmark Danes, he delivered a perfect 10-yard strike to tight end James Bryant for the go-ahead score with 35 seconds remaining, lifting them to a 20-19 home win on Friday in a critical Region 7-AAAA game.
"We were going to score any way we had to," said Reavis on what was his first touchdown pass of the season. "It came down to that and we found a seam and we made a play."
The Titans, ranked No. 5, improved to 5-1, 2-0 in league play, while the Danes fell to 5-1, 2-1.
The Danes had a chance to win the game as time expired by attempting a 49-yard field goal, but it was blocked. That put an end to a wild fourth quarter in which 26 points were scored following a 7-6 game after three quarters.
The Titans scored all of their points in the second half, taking their first lead with 1:35 left in the third quarter on Elijah Green's 2-yard run on fourth-and-goal from the 2, which made it 7-6. The score was set up five plays earlier when, on third-and-15, Reavis rolled out of the pocket to avoid a heavy rush and completed a 38-yard pass to Michael Mitchler to make it first-and-goal from the 4.
After a Denmark three-and-out, Titans running back Justice Haynes — son of former Georgia Bulldogs and NFL standout running back Verron Haynes — took a run 66 yards to the house on the drive's second play to make it 14-6 with 11:44 remaining.
The Danes weren't finished, however. Two Auburn commits, junior quarterback Aaron McLaughlin and senior receiver Ze'Vian Capers accounted for the game's next two touchdowns as Denmark reclaimed the lead at 19-14 with 3:58 remaining.
The first score came on the 6-foot-5, 205-pound McLaughlin's overpowering 10-yard run up the middle on first-and-goal with 7:57 remaining. That capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive highlighted by a 44-yard pass from McLaughlin to Capers.
On their next drive, which came after a Blessed Trinity three-and-out, McLaughlin went 6-of-8 passing for 60 yards including an 18-yard completion and 24-yard touchdown to Capers, with the touchdown coming on third-and-9.
That set up Blessed Trinity's final drive, which came with no timeouts and started on the 20. Save for the first play of the drive (a five-yard completion), and the last (the touchdown pass), the Titans gained their yardage on the ground, with Green rushing four times for 39 yards and Haynes three times for 27.
With the win, the Titans, who are the defending back-to-back AAAA champions, are eying their sixth region title in the last seven seasons in what was considered by some to be a reloading year for the young team.
"(The win is) huge for our program," Reavis said. "Everyone was doubting us this year, so for us this is a big statement win. They're an unbelievable team over there, and it took all four quarters. Huge props to our o-line and defense for keeping us in it."
Earlier, with 6:25 left in the second quarter, the Danes opened the game's scoring on Jordan Brunson's 2-yard run, which made it 6-0 after a bad snap on the extra point attempt. Blessed Trinity nearly responded at the end of the half when, on third-and-18 from their own 47, Reavis completed a screen pass to Carson Harof, who ran 52 yards but was tackled at the 1 with no time on the clock.
Reavis finished 8-for-15 passing for 201 yards. Haynes led all rushers with 131 yards on 15 carries and Green had 80 yards on 21 carries. Harof had three catches for 77 yards and Quinton Reese had four catches for 58.
McLaughlin was 23-of-30 passing for 211 yards and led the team with 19 carries and 56 rushing yards. Capers had 176 receiving yards on just five catches.
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