Receiver Bruce Houston on Friday night ruined Grace King’s upset bid, instead giving his first-year West Jefferson coach Kevin Fox his first victory as a head coach.
Houston caught two touchdown passes, the latter an 8-yard score with 1:16 left at Joseph Yenni Stadium to lift the Buccaneers to a 21-16 win.
“I just caught it, tried to be strong and score,” Houston said. “I knew my team was down. I had to help them out.”
West Jefferson (1-4) needed all the help Houston and others could muster to give Coach Kevin Fox his first win.
Before Houston’s grand play, West Jefferson had trailed since the early in the second quarter to King (2-3), which led 16-7 at halftime.
“Tonight, we only played 461/2 minutes,” Grace King Coach Stuart Boo said. “But the good thing about it (is) these kids know they can play now.”
Grace King earned previous victories this season against Hannan and Lake Area.
But a win against West Jefferson, a District 8-5A program, would have offered a sweeter Friday night treat.
West Jefferson running back David Carter scored on the first play from scrimmage, a 59-yard run. Yet King countered with three field goals by Wilmer Toro (40, 29, 31), as well as Milan Powell’s 12-yard interception return for a score, giving the Fighting Irish a fighting chance.
Grace King’s offense, though, stalled in the second half, although it was able to utilize a lot of clock with the running of Derek Friloux (22 carries for 88 yards) and Russell Kelly (12 carries for 34 yards).
Defensively, the Fighting Irish sacked quarterback Coley Ransaw four times and intercepted him twice. But with 1:59 left, West Jefferson stopped Kelly short of a first down, forcing a punt.
West Jefferson scored after five plays, capped by Houston catch and run into the end zone.
“We just had to keep play,” Houston said of West Jefferson’s second-half approach. “We’ve been working since the summer. We had to fight. Keep fighting.”
He finished with three catches for 26 yards.
“I told them the last five minutes was the best football I’ve seen them play,” said Fox, whose Buccaneers play Bonnabel next week. “Their intensity turned up, and that’s what we needed them to do. I expect to see that (more).”
Carter finished with 61 rushing yards and 45 receiving yards. Ransaw passed for 166 yards.
Grace King, an independent, plays Thomas Jefferson next week.
“We just need to work harder and believe in what we can do,” Friloux said.
“We definitely surprised them. We surprised everybody. We didn’t quite pull it off, but we knew what we could do.”