With less than a minute on the clock and needing a touchdown, Sequim quarterback Riley Cowan and his Wolves were looking for a bit of luck to fall into their hands.
As luck would have it, receiver Jarrett Allen was in the right place at the right time.
Knocked down in the end zone, Allen caught Cowan’s deflected pass with 49 seconds left to lift Sequim to an improbable 23-22 win over Centralia on Sept. 15.
It was the second touchdown catch for Allen in the final 160 seconds of play, in a game that saw Sequim trailing 22-3 after the first half.
“With the practice that we had (in the last week) we knew we were better than that,” said Cowan, the junior quarterback who threw for 225 yards and three scores Friday night.
“It’s about being positive; I’ve got to be that even-keel (player),” Cowan said. “That’s my goal this year, with all the underclassmen. This might have been my best game for that.”
Cowan and the Wolves survived a turnover-laden game that saw multiple fumbles on both sides, but it was the seeming fumble that didn’t happen that overshadowed the first half.
After giving up an opening score to the visiting Tigers and getting a first-half field goal from Byron Rice, the Wolves punted from their own end zone with about a minute left in the first half. The ball squirted under the Centralia kick returner and Sequim players reacted as if the ball had been touched, racing into the end zone for a score.
Instead, referees blew the play dead. On the next play, Centralia quarterback Kolby Baird found the speedy running back Jose Pineda for a 57-yard touchdown pass and a 14-3 lead.
Centralia recovered the ensuing onside kick, and three plays later Baird found Broc Selstrom for a 30-yard touchdown score. To add proverbial salt to the wound, Centralia converted the two-point play with a 30-yard toss after the snap was fumbled, giving the Tigers their 22-3 advantage.
Sequim’s defense locked down the Tigers in the second half, however, forcing a punt and four consecutive turnovers on downs in Centralia’s five drives, including a pair deep in SHS territory.
Despite a couple of key second half fumbles, Sequim closed the gap to 22-9 when Cowan found Rollness from 15 yards out; the kick was blocked.
The score stayed that way as teams traded possessions until 5:50 left in the game. On a third-and-nine, Rollness dropped what looked to be a sure score, but a play later the junior snagged a Cowan pass across the middle for 38 yards. That set up Cowan’s second TD pass, finding Allen in the end zone from 11 yards out. A Rice conversion made it 22-16 with 2:40 to play.
Sequim’s defense locked up the Tiger’s rushing attack once again to force a turnover on downs, and Cowan found Rollness down the sideline for 36 yards, putting the Wolves on Centralia’s 21-yard-line with 1:09 to play.
After back-to-back incompletions — including a Sequim drop in the end zone — Cowan and Allen found a bit of magic on fourth-and-10.
“They came with a blitz off the edge. I kind of threw across my body, which you’re never supposed to do,” Cowan said. “When I saw the ball go up (in the air), I knew he’d catch it.”
Said Allen of the last play: “I didn’t see much.”
Allen, who played cornerback as well Friday night, said the Wolves were able to win thanks to a bit of schoolwork: everyone just needed to complete their assignments.
“The key tonight was definitely the defense,” Allen said.
Rollness finished with team-highs of 10 receptions for 163 yards.
Sequim was without two-way star Gavin Velarde, last season’s Olympic League MVP, who was sidelined with an injury.
Sequim and Centralia are no strangers to close games in recent years. Last season, Sequim won at Centralia 28-14 in a game that was closer than the final score indicates, and Centralia upended Sequim 34-28 in overtime in 2014.
Sequim kicks off its Olympic League schedule with a home date against the Bremerton Knights on Sept. 22. Last season, Velarde returned a kickoff for a touchdown for the game’s only score, a 7-0 Sequim victory.
Bremerton (1-0 in league, 3-0 overall) topped Olympic 37-23 on Sept. 15 in Bremerton.
The Wolves are at North Kitsap on Sept. 29 and North Mason on Oct. 6.