In a heartbreaking loss that came down to Carlsbad’s last possession, the Goddard Rockets fell 19-18 Friday night to the Cavemen at the Wool Bowl.
In a game in which a single play could have tipped the balance, the Cavemen began a drive at their own 25-yard line with 2:33 to go, down 18-12.
On third and 1 from their 34-yard line, Carlsbad senior quarterback Jaykan Willis threw deep to senior Jordin Molina. A Goddard defender pushed Molina as the ball hung in the air, resulting in a 15-yard penalty on the Rockets.
Two plays later, Willis again threw deep to Molina, who got behind the defender for the falling catch to set up a first and goal at the Goddard 4-yard line.
On third and goal at the 1-yard line with just 8 seconds left in the game, Willis kept the football, and pushed the pile just across the goal line for a touchdown that made it 18-18.
The extra point kick by Carlsbad senior Jake Bowen was low and to the left, but made it over the crossbar and inside the left upright to put Carlsbad up 19-18.
The Rockets tried some razzle dazzle on the ensuing kickoff with several laterals, including an illegal forward lateral, but time expired and the Rockets gained little ground on the desperation play, falling to 1-2 on the season.
Goddard senior quarterback Dalton Bowles, who ran the ball repeatedly Friday in a game in which the Rockets had just three passes in the first half, said it was a heartbreaking defeat.
“I think it just came down to who had the ball last,” Bowles said. “Our whole line did really good tonight. I thought we played well. I thought we had a really good effort, it just didn’t go our way tonight. We’ve just got to come back next week.”
Goddard head coach Chris White said the Rockets played with heart.
“It’s heartbreaking for the boys, but I haven’t been any more proud of a big win than what I was with the effort our kids played with tonight,” White said. “I didn’t think we played real hard last week (in a 30-7 road loss to Piedra Vista) and I was real disappointed, but man the kids came out and just played their hearts out tonight.
“I thought the kids did everything that they possibly could have done. But hey, we’ll go back and go to work and we’ll find things we can improve. The heart’s something, either you have a big heart or you don’t. I think going forward now with our schedule and stuff, I feel good about the team and what we’ve got.”
The Rockets got on top on their first possession of the first quarter, putting together a 40-yard touchdown drive.
Bowles connected with senior Samuel Ramirez for a first down, followed by a 20-yard first down run from senior Diego Miranda on third and short, that sat the Rockets up at the Carlsbad 18-yard line.
After another first down run from Miranda set the Rockets up at the Carlsbad 10-yard line.
On third and goal from the 2, Bowles kept the football in the shotgun formation and ran to the left side, running over a Carlsbad defender at the goal line for the touchdown that made it 6-0 Rockets with 4:34 left in the first quarter.
Goddard sat up for the extra point, but the snap was mishandled. Rocket sophomore Robert Aragon rolled out to the left side and found Ramirez in the end zone for the two-point conversion that made it 8-0 Goddard.
Both teams punted on their next possessions, as the game moved into the second quarter, when Carlsbad put together a 62-yard touchdown drive.
A chop block on the Rocket defense put the Cavemen within the Goddard red zone.
On third and goal from the 7-yard line, Carlsbad senior running back Jake Bowen showed his speed on a sweep to the right side for an easy touchdown that made it 8-6 Goddard. The Rockets blocked the extra point attempt.
Goddard threatened to score late in the second quarter, but the Rockets turned the ball over on downs when Bowles was sacked on fourth down at the Carlsbad 34-yard line, as the half ended with Goddard up 8-6.
Goddard received the kickoff to start the second half, and again the Rockets put together a sustained drive, but Goddard turned the ball over on downs at the Carlsbad 34-yard line.
The Cavemen drove for 66 yards, much of it on a 36 yard run by Willis across midfield.
A face mask penalty on the Rockets put the Cavemen at the Rocket 3-yard line. On second and goal, Carlsbad scored on a rushing touchdown to make it 12-8 Carlsbad with 2:33 left in the third quarter. The Rocket defense stopped the Cavemen on the two-point conversion.
But the Rockets regained the lead in the fourth quarter on a 65-yard touchdown drive, thanks to two fourth down runs by Bowles and a 22-yard run by Miranda to nearly the pylon.
On second and inches, Bowles bowled into the end zone to make 14-12 Goddard with 8:44 remaining. The extra point kick from left-footed sophomore J.P. Weiser split the uprights to make it 15-12 Rockets.
The Rockets stopped the Cavemen on their next possession, who punted the ball for just 10 yards, even with the benefit of a kind roll.
Goddard was set up near midfield with 6:06 to go. The powerful frame, quick feet and cutback agility of Miranda drove the ball deep into Carlsbad territory.
On third and goal at the 5-yard line, Miranda took the pitch, but got tied up the backfield, spraining his ankle and leaving the game.
“He twisted an ankle and then he came back in there late, so that’s always good,” White said. “It was just an ankle sprain type of deal.”
After Miranda limped off the field very slowly aided by two coaches, Goddard faced a fourth and goal from the Carlsbad 8-yard line.
With Miranda out of the game, the Rockets chose to go for the field goal, which Weiser nailed to make it 18-12 with 2:36 left in the game.
White said the timing of Miranda’s injury didn’t help the drive.
“But hey, give our little kicker credit for stroking a field goal,” White said. “That’s a big spot.”
Carlsbad took over at their own 25-yard line with 2:33 to go. The pass interference call on Goddard and 36-yard pass from Willis to Molina sat up the 1-yard touchdown run by Willis that made it 18-18, followed by the critical extra point attempt that would decide the game.
“We needed to convert on one more drive and get a stop there,” White said. “There was the big pass interference.
“I thought the officials actually called us a really good, clean game. Sometimes calls don’t go your way, and that’s just how life is.”
White said the game plan was to pound the ball on the ground to keep the Carlsbad offense off the field.
“We’ve thrown for big first downs though when we did throw them,” White said. “But they’re a high-powered offense. I’m not trying to rush things. I’m trying to keep their offense off the field. I thought we did a good job with that. You could see they’re an explosive kind of offense. I thought we did a pretty good job of ball control, all told. I think they punted quite a few more times than we did.”
The Rockets hit the road next Friday to play at Clovis.