After numerous penalties, dropped passes and special teams miscues, the Sierra Vista Buena Colts found themselves with one final chance to save their season — but not a lot of time to do it.
Somehow, they made it happen, keeping their playoff hopes alive.
Senior quarterback Rafael Adames drove the Colts (6-4) 50 yards in the final 30 seconds of an enthralling fourth quarter, and Seima Groves kicked a 31-yard field goal as time expired to defeat Sunnyside 24-23. Buena, which came into the game No. 17 in the Division II rankings, hopes the win over the No. 20 Blue Devils (5-5) was enough to move up two spots and snag the division’s final playoff berth.
“We showed tonight that we are one of the 16 best teams in the state,” said Buena head coach Ryan Scherling. “We deserve to be in the playoffs.”
Trailing for most of the final period, Sunnyside finally found the end zone to retake the lead with 34 seconds to play on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Bobby Rodriguez to Gerry Fierros. But the Blue Devils opted to kick an extra point instead of going for the two-point conversion, leaving the lead at 23-21. The subsequent kickoff went out of bounds, leaving Adames — armed with three timeouts — just enough time to move the Colts into field goal range.
While Sunnyside’s secondary played brilliantly to nullify the Colts’ passing attack all night — particularly Fierros, who held explosive Buena receiver Deonte Williams, one of the top receivers in Southern Arizona, to 25 yards on four catches.
Adames was able to hit senior receiver Ben Sims for two quick strikes over the middle, setting up Groves for the game-winner.
“With so much on the line, our guys showed tremendous heart tonight,” said Scherling. “I’m so proud of them.”
Buena overcame a sloppy first half to retake the lead in the third quarter, committing fully to its running game. Senior Dominique Drake rushed 16 times for 136 yards and two second-half touchdowns.
The Colts trailed 16-7 going into halftime, in part due to a handful of crucial penalties and a blocked punt recovered deep in Buena territory.
“We had opportunities down the field all night, we just couldn’t make any plays,” Scherling said. “We definitely made a lot of mistakes that we need to clean up.”
After Groves’ kick sailed through the uprights, an emotional Colts home crowd stormed the field on senior night — but their playoff fate will be decided this morning, when the final Division II power rankings are posted.