GLENNS FERRY — Oakley had every reason to cash it in. The Hornets had been dominated in the second half, blowing a two-score lead, and could get nothing going against the Glenns Ferry defense. After surrendering the lead with two minutes remaining in their 1A-1 state football semifinal Friday, Oakley fumbled the kickoff back to the Pilots.
Game over, you’d think. But there was still time for one more twist in the tale — exactly enough time, to be more precise.
Tate Cranney found Bridger Cranney for a 9-yard touchdown pass as time expired, then Bridger Cranney ran in the conversion himself to force overtime. Two extra sessions later, Oakley finally vanquished Glenns Ferry, 50-42, to reach next week’s championship game.
“I was so scared I was going to drop it,” Bridger Cranney said of the final pass, a student-body-right, throwback-left that saw him stroll into the ending with nobody near him. “That was a once-in-a-lifetime game. But now we’ve gotten where we want to be, and now we need to go to work.”
That play was redemption for Tate Cranney, who admitted to missing badly on the same throw last week against Lapwai. But with the chips down, he was dead-on with his accuracy.
That Oakley had to stage the last gasp rally was remarkable in its own right. The Hornets did almost as they pleased in the first half, pushing Glenns Ferry around defensively and dominating time of possession on the way to a halftime lead.
When the Hornets scored on the very first possession of the 3rd quarter, it look like curtains for the Pilots.
But then Glenns Ferry out-Oakleyed Oakley, dominating the second half and launching on three scoring drives that chewed up a combined 234 yards on 37 plays, taking more than 18 minutes off the clock.
But when Glenns Ferry needed one more first down to salt the game away, Oakley got the stop it needed near midfield to set up its own heroics courtesy of its sophomore quarterback.
“I’ve always been told to stay calm, relax, and I was able to do it,” Tate Cranney said. “We just kept preaching to stay cool, stay relaxed.”
In the loss for Glenns Ferry, Erick Ballesteros had three touchdowns and Brady Turner added two. The Pilots finally succumbed when a last-ditch throw was batted away on fourth down.
“The kids are crushed, but that’s a fantastic football team. This was about as even as two teams can be on the field, and we just needed another break or two,” said Glenns Ferry coach Laif Morrison. “At halftime we told the kids to remember who they are, and they’re tough kids. We knew there would be ups and downs ... it hurts.”
Maeser Pickett added two scores for Oakley, which will face Raft River or Notus in the title game.
The Hornets tried to be diplomatic after the game as to their future opponent, but they could scarcely mask their desire for another crack at their arch rivals.
“We want another shot at Raft River,” both Cranneys said, Bridger adding: “They’ve been our rivals since third grade. For the title, it would be epic.”
Oakley 50, Glenns Ferry 42, 2 OT
GF—Ballesteros 5 run (Gastelum pass from Arellano) 8:39
O—Pickett 3 run (Bedke run) 2:05
GF—Turner 79 pass from Arellano (run failed) 1:11
O—Pickett 3 run (pass failed) 4:26
O—Bedke 1 run (run failed) 1:51
O—B. Cranney 5 run (B. Cranney run) 10:41
GF—Ballesteros 7 run (Guerrero pass from Arellano) 3:58
GF—Arellano 1 run (run failed) 7:42
GF—Turner 47 pass from Arellano (Ballesteros run) 1:59
O—B. Cranney 9 pass from T. Cranney (B. Cranney run) 0:00
GF—Ballesteros 10 run (pass failed)
O—B. Cranney 4 run (run failed)
O—T. Cranney 2 run (Beck pass from T. Cranney)