Football: Grandview drops heartbreaker to Valor Christian in 5A semifinals

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Grandview seniors Tilmon Gash, left, and Chukwuma Obinnah (7) react after the Wolves' 14-7 loss to Valor Christian in a Class 5A state semifinal football game played on Nov. 22, 2014, at Legacy Stadium. Grandview's season came to an end at 12-1 overall, while Valor Christian advanced to the Nov. 29 5A state championship game. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)
Grandview seniors Tilmon Gash, left, and Chukwuma Obinnah (7) react after the Wolves’ 14-7 loss to Valor Christian in a Class 5A state semifinal football game played on Nov. 22, 2014, at Legacy Stadium. Grandview’s season came to an end at 12-1 overall, while Valor Christian advanced to the Nov. 29 5A state championship game. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

AURORA | The Grandview football team won the Centennial League championship, but now has to watch two teams it beat along the way battle for the Class 5A state title.

Following a wild game filled with missed opportunities, emotion and one gigantic call that went against them, the Wolves had a hard time coming to grips with a heartbreaking 14-7 loss to Valor Christian in a 5A semifinal at Legacy Stadium.

Grandview senior quarterback Cody Summers’ last gasp pass into the end zone was intercepted in the closing seconds and the Eagles knocked off the league champs to advance to an all-Centennial League final at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 29 at Sports Authority Field against Cherry Creek, which stopped Ralston Valley Friday night.

“It was a great effort by everyone; it’s sad to see this group of kids’ season come to an end,” Grandview coach John Schultz said. “This was the first Grandview team ever to get to 12-0, so I’m proud of them for that and it was big to win the Centennial League championship.

“I know this one is going to sting for awhile, but it doesn’t take away from how hard they played. …The kids spent a lot of emotion on this one.”

Schultz’s Wolves finished the season 12-1 and now sit 1-4 all-time in the 5A semifinal round. Grandview’s only Final Four victory came in 2007, when it went on to win its only state football championship, while it also had its season end there in 2005, 2010 and 2011.

On the other side, Valor Christian (10-3) improved to 26-0 all-time in the playoffs in the 3A, 4A and 5A classifications and have a chance to win a sixth state title.

“We worked hard all season and I don’t have much to say other than we left it all out on the field,” said Grandview senior wide receiver Brandon Brooks, Summers’ intended target on his final pass. “Valor’s a very good team and they deserve what they got. …We had a great season, I just wish we’d been able to finish it.”

The Wolves beat the Eagles by three points to cap the regular season and things started out well in their hopes of doing it again when senior defensive back Gabe Hill picked off a tipped Dylan McCaffrey pass on the Eagles’ first play from scrimmage.

Set up at the Valor Christian 34, Grandview punched into the end zone seven plays later. Summers converted a fourth down with a quarterback sneak and then found big senior tight end Morgan Smith in the end zone from four yards out to put the Wolves in front just 3 minutes, 30 seconds into the contest.

“It really pumped up up to score right away, but we didn’t keep that intensity the whole game,” Summers said. “We just lost it. I don’t know where it went, it was just gone. …They stopped the run a lot better this time and if you don’t have a running game, it makes it hard.”

Grandview wouldn’t get across midfield for the rest of the first half, however, while Valor Christian got even early in the second quarter when Danny Rambo returned a punt to the Wolves’ 1-yard line to set up a McCaffrey touchdown run on the next play.

Deadlocked at 7-7, the pivotal sequence of the game came after Grandview’s next offensive drive stalled and the Wolves were forced to punt. Instead of sending the elusive Rambo back to field the kick again, the Eagles put Brandon O’Donnell back inside their 10-yard line. Keifer Glau’s punt bounced and rolled inside the 5-yard line, with O’Donnell making a late decision to try to field it.

O’Donnell put two hands on the football as he tried to pick it up, but was swarmed over by Grandview gunners Smith and Marcus Lawrence, which jarred the ball loose and into the end zone. A hustling Nathan Nguyen dove on it and officials signaled a touchdown for the Wolves, but the referee later took the points off the board, saying that O’Donnell hadn’t had full possession and awarding a touchback, with the ball going to Valor Christian.

An incensed Schultz argued his case with the referee to no avail and the Eagles proceeded to take advantage against the temporary-flustered Wolves’ defense with a 15-play drive that covered 80 yards and took six minutes.

McCaffrey floated a 16-yard touchdown pass to Eric Lee Jr. in the end zone with just 1:45 left in the half and Valor Christian took the 14-7 lead into the lockerroom.

While Grandview’s defense held in the second half and forced a turnover when the ball was knocked out of McCaffrey’s hands and recovered by DeAndre Shorts, the Wolves got four offensive possessions to try to tie the game and three ended up with frustrating results.

Following Shorts’ fumble recovery, Grandview got down to the Valor Christian 29 and faced a fourth-and-two. The Wolves had a perfect play action pass called, but Summers’ quick pass was too far in front of an open Brandon Brooks and the ball went back to the Eaglecrest on downs.

The next drive finally saw senior running back Chukwuma Obinnah (96 yards) finally get going and help Grandview reach the 22, but Lee Jr. picked off Summers as he tried to hit Tyler Vallin in the end zone on fourth down.

The final Grandview possession started at the 3-yard line and got all the way to Valor Christian’s 7 with the help of huge conversion catches by Brooks, Vallin and Cameron Knight.

The Wolves spiked the ball on first down, Summers threw an incomplete pass on second down and was sacked for a two-yard loss on third down. A false start pushed Grandview back to the 14 ahead of fourth-and-goal and Summers was flushed from the pocket after taking the snap. He escaped and floated a ball toward Brooks in the back of the end zone, but Lee Jr. leaped and reeled the ball in with one hand to seal the Eagles’ victory.

Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel

(2) VALOR CHRISTIAN 14, (1) GRANDVIEW 7

Score by quarters:

Valor Christian  0  14  0  0 — 14

Grandview          7    0  0  0 —  7

SCORING

First quarter

Grandview — Morgan Smith 4 yard pass from Cody Summers (Aidin Pirrin kick), 8:30

Second quarter

Valor Christian — Dylan McCaffrey 1 yard run (Jarred Kendziorski kick), 9:33

Valor Christian — Eric Lee Jr. 16 yard pass from McCaffrey (Kendziorski kick), 1:45

RUSHING

Valor Christian: Stone Watson 10-55, Danny Rambo 12-46, Dylan McCaffrey 7-15, Andy Pieratt 1-5, Nathan Whatmore 1-2

Grandview: Chukwuma Obinnah 21-96, Cody Summers 13-53, Ben Marshall 5-11, DeAndre Shorts 1-1

PASSING

Valor Christian: McCaffrey 14-23, 107 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception

Grandview: Summers 7-19, 71 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions

RECEIVING

Valor Christian: Eric Lee Jr. 2-25, Brandon O’Donnell 4-23, Bubba Watkins 2-20, Watson 2-15, Sid Turnbull-Fraser 1-13, Booker Schelhaas 1-11, Rambo 2-0

Grandview: Tyler Vallin 3-27, Brandon Brooks 1-22, Cameron Knight 2-18, Morgan Smith 1-4

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SA Bender
SA Bender
7 years ago

http://www.chsaanow.com has an article from the CHSAA office affirming the call in question regarding the touchback. It
references page 47 of their 2014 case book, rule 6.3.1.

See from the aforementioned CHSSA article below…But first two very
important facts that don’t square with the CHSSA explanation 1.) The
slowly moving ball was picked up off the ground by the Valor player.
This can’t be disputed. Once a ball is picked up off the ground, how can
it be said it is not in possession of the picker upper?? He absolutely
controlled it. If he just had a hand on it, or juggled it, or it just
touched a part of his body that would understandably not be
“possession”. Picking a ball up off of the ground with BOTH Hands is
possession. The CHSSA article states that the player “attempted to pick
up a scrimmage kick”…There is no question that he did pick it up. It
went from the ground up to the player with both hands on the ball. 2.)
The article states that the Valor player “muffed it into the end zone”
He did no such thing. The FUMBLE was forced by being knocked out of his
hands by a Grandview player into the end zone, a free ball, then
recovered by Grandview. Touchdown as called. Stating that it was muffed
supports the idea that he did not have possession and the “muffing” was
done by the Valor player with no outside influence. That is not the
case.
The ruling fully depends on whether the Valor player did pick up the
ball, thus possessed it, he did, and the ball was unequivocally not
“muffed” by the Valor player. The fumble was forced. Watch it again,
these 2 facts are very clear. It was a wrong call. Here’s the CHSAA
description.

“There was some confusion regarding a call made
during the Valor Christian/Grandview semifinal football game in Class 5A
on Saturday.

During the game, Grandview punted the ball to Valor Christian in the
second quarter. A Valor Christian player attempted pick up a scrimmage
kick at the 2-yard-line and, never gaining possession, muffed it into
the end zone. The ball crossed the plane of the end zone, and was
recovered by the kicking team (Grandview). However, the officials
correctly ruled on the field that once the ball crossed the plane, it
was a dead ball, and therefore a touchback.

This is the correct call.

On page 47 of the NFHS’ 2014 Football Case Book, Rule 6.3.1, Situation A states:

A scrimmage kick by (the kicking team) comes to rest on
(the receiving team’s) 6-yard-line. (The receiving team) attempts to
recover and advance, but muffs the ball so that it rolls into the end
zone where: (a) (The receiving team) downs the ball; or (b) (The
receiving team) recovers and advances out of the end zone; or (c) (The
kicking team) recovers and downs the ball in the end zone.

RULING: The ball became dead as soon as it broke the
plane of (the receiving team’s) goal line. It is a touchback in (a),
(b) and (c). The kick had not ended because muffing does not constitute
possession, therefore, it is a kick into (the receiving team’s) end zone
which is an automatic touchback.

Additionally, the Referee on this game is in the NFHS officiating
Hall of Fame and is currently the Colorado football rules interpreter.”