Junior QB Griffen Bone experienced what many QBs in high school never get a chance to do - drive his team down the field in the first game of the season against the visiting Beavers with two minutes left in the game; no timeouts, a run-first offense, and place the ball in the most pristine spot where only his receiver could grab it in the front corner of the end zone as time expired. Was it desperation or brilliance? In Bone’s own words, “It was freaking unreal.”
The message from the coaching staff before the Cowboys vs Beaver rivalry game was to play desperate and live with the results. After a 12- year drought of finding a win against the powerhouse Beavers, a little desperation is what the Cowboys needed as this game turned out to be one of the best high school endings ever witnessed. Not desperate in that the Cowboys had nothing to lose – backs up against a wall type desperate, but desperate in not holding anything back and letting go of any perceived pressures, playing loose and having fun.
With two minutes left, the Cowboys looked as calm and nerve free as if they were at the playground back in elementary school. A Hollywood movie producer couldn’t orchestrate a better ending. Senior Kason Janes said after the game, “Words can’t describe it. All the emotions for the last four years of playing went into that last play.”
Bone found Janes in the end zone earlier in the game after a botched punt by the Beavers to cut the Beaver lead to 14-7 before going into the half. After two disappointing interceptions ending the Cowboys early drives, and resulting in two Beaver touchdowns, this touchdown by the Cowboys in the second quarter was redemption and redeeming enough to give the Cowboys the glimmer of hope they needed to overcome a lingering feeling that the Beavers had moved onto bigger and better rivalries in the bigger 2A classification.
The Cowboys got on the board again in the third quarter to tie the game as Parker Franklin did what he does best - and what he did all night - pounding it up the middle behind a powerful offensive line. The Cowboys defense, which was a question mark going into the game came up big in the second half, holding the Beavers scoreless until the flip-flop, rollercoaster final three minutes in the game.
With the game winding down in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys looked prime to take control of the game after a 4th and 9 conversion where Bone found Janes streaking up the sideline to put the Cowboys in a prime scoring position to take the lead. After a holding penalty pushed the Cowboys out of a comfortable field goal range, the Cowboys elected to go for it on a 4th and 19th on the 19-yard line rather than kick a field goal for the win. With three minutes left in the game, Coach Quarnberg reflectively said, “With it being early in the season, I felt more comfortable going for it, rather than attempting a field goal.” As it looked like fate would have it, the Beavers scored on their next possession where Beaver Baylor Blackburn got behind the defense and almost scored on a 70-yard pass which Bone nearly picked off but mistimed it. It was the Beavers second reception of the night. Freshman speedster Hayden Gubler chased him down to save the touchdown, only to have the Beavers Bodie Wheatley score on the next play from 11yards out with a grim 2:08 left on the clock. Not much time for a run-first offense.
This is where Bone and the Cowboys looked instinctual like a veteran NFL squad, where they made the two-minute drill look easy; no penalties, no holding calls, no false starts, no errors, nearly flawless as the crowd watched with anxiety ridden eyes and the scoreboard ticked slowly by. With 16 seconds left, Bone escaped two game ending tackles and found Janes - or I should say Janes found the ball - coming back for it in-between three blue bodies to keep the Cowboy drive alive and making all those fans who left early jealous of those that held onto hope and stayed.
With six seconds left, the Cowboys got up to the line, got set and spiked it with three ticks remaining: setting up one final hail-mary. Once again it was Bone to Janes as the offensive line gave Bone just enough time to let one fly to the perfect spot in the end zone where only Janes could go up and snatch it, and that he did. The silence of the Beaver sidelines spoke volumes as they couldn’t believe what they just witnessed.
The frenzy was heightened throughout Arlyn Hafen stadium as Coach Quarnberg didn’t hesitate to send in the offense for a two-point conversion that would either kill the excitement or push it towards wuthering heights. A type of decision every great coach thrives on, Parker Franklin, who had led the Cowboys all night, would turn Quarnberg’s decision into a heroic one. Franklin blasted through the middle to give the Cowboys the win 22-21 with no time left on the clock. Coach Quarnberg said of the game, “I don’t feel like we won it the pretty way, but we won it. I’m not sure how we drew it up at all, but one to remember. After some injuries to key players like Travis Stewart, we had some players step up huge. It was awesome!”
Franklin ended the night with 108 yards rushing on 20 attempts, a bruising force to be reckoned with, averaging a powerful 5.4 yards per carry. The Beavers’ Ayden Bradshaw ended with 135 yards rushing on 22 carries, also a standout performance. Janes led the receiving core with four catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns, and also led an outstanding defensive squad with 11 tackles and two sacks, followed by newcomers Maddix Baird and Waylon White both adding 10 of their own tackles. Freshman Hayden Gubler and sophomore Troy Federkeil gave a spark on the defensive side of things coming off the bench and each adding four and five of their own respectively.
The Cowboys played desperate the whole game to give them a chance to win it, but it was their brilliance on that last drive that won it. From the offensive line giving Bone enough time to throw, to the receivers who got open, to the running backs who protected the pocket, and to the coaches who called the plays in frantic tick-tock moments where every second proved invaluable to give their team a chance to win. It was a whole team effort, and the Cowboys did it in dramatic fashion, just like a fashion statement from the 80s and 90s when Kanab vs. Beaver was one of the greatest rivalries in the state.
It’s back, baby.