Friday, November 10, 2023

Prep Football: #3 Granite Hills stun #2 Carlsbad in Overtime, advances to Open Division Final

In an instant classic, the No. 3 seed Granite Hills Eagles (11-0) prevailed 46-45 in overtime against the No. 2 seed Carlsbad Lancers (10-1) in Thursday's Open Division Semifinal thriller. Junior running back Isaiah "Pablo" Jackson scored the game-winning two-point conversion to lift the Eagles to victory and a spot in the Championship Game at Snapdragon Stadium, where they will face the winner of Friday's Lincoln-Helix matchup.

The Eagles drew first blood on junior Maxwell Turner's 21-yard touchdown run, capping their opening drive. Carlsbad senior Mason Walsh swiftly tied it up with a nine-yard scoring scamper. After a three-and-out, Lancers quarterback Julian Sayin connected with Will Cianfrini on a remarkable 43-yard touchdown pass for a 14-7 edge late in the first quarter.

The frenetic second quarter featured multiple lead changes. Granite Hills tied it when Jackson powered in from five yards out. On the next drive, Eagles safety Nokoi Maddox picked off Sayin's only interception this season, setting up another Jackson touchdown for a 21-14 advantage. Walsh took a short pass from Sayin to paydirt, knotting the score at 21-all. Turner punched in a five-yard touchdown just before the half to give Granite Hills a 28-21 halftime lead.

The second half brought more back-and-forth action. Walsh's third touchdown, a 10-yard run, drew Carlsbad even at 28-28. Eagles senior kicker Robert Petrich drilled a 46-yard field goal to put Granite Hills up 31-28. With the game in the balance, Lancers' junior kicker Tyler Prasuhn nailed a 24-yard kick to tie it 31-31. Facing 4th-and-1, Sayin hit Luke Ferrelli for a 38-31 lead. Turner responded with a clutch 4th-down touchdown run to force overtime at 38-38.

In the extra session, Sayin found Griffin Rosenbloom for a 10-yard score. Trailing 45-38, Eagles freshman quarterback Zachary Benitez connected with Josh Zander on fourth down from six yards out. A bold two-point call by 12th-year head coach Kellan Cobbs' resulted in Jackson's decisive run, sealing Granite Hills' 20th straight victory.

The heartbreaking loss ends Carlsbad's run of three straight Open Division title game appearances.

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