Down by four points with just 66 seconds left, and with 64 yards stretched between himself and the end zone, Harry Leons was right where he wanted to be.
“It’s one of the those feelings you live for,” Leons said, moments after driving Eastern Washington for a touchdown in the waning seconds of Saturday’s 24-21 win over Idaho at Albi Stadium.
“I was confident we could get it done. “
And cool, too, according to Eagles coach Mike Kramer, who could only marvel at the way his senior quarterback calmly engineered the lightning four-play drive that decided the issue.
“When your quarterback has a heartbeat that has a hard time getting above 90, you’re going to be pretty good in that situation,” Kramer said. “Harry’s not a very excitable person. He can handle those moments.”
Behind a rock-solid offensive line that has been at the heart of Eastern’s success this season, Leons connected with senior wideout Jeff Ogden on passes that covered 38 and 23 yards and used only seconds. And two plays later, Rex Prescott scored the winning touchdown on a 3-yard run over right guard.
As it turned out, Leons wasn’t the only Eagle still believing in the final seconds.
Ogden, too, felt the drive was doable, thanks to the work he and Leons have put in at practice over the years.
“Before that last minute, all I could think about was practice when me and Harry work on the 2-minute drill,” explained Ogden, who was knocked dizzy on his second catch of the drive and forced to leave the game. “We’re always communicating and talking, so I thought we could do it.
“We had time, we had timeouts left, so I was kind of looking forward to it. I’m not sure if I was actually begging for the ball, but I was glad to get the opportunity.”
Kramer said the normally aggressive Idaho defense came with a standard pass rush on both big pass plays.
“And we can deal with that,” he said. “The protection held up, we ran clearing routes both times with Jeff coming through the middle and Harry stepped up and delivered the ball the way he had to.”
And all while Idaho’s defense was reeling in disbelief.
“It comes down to the last minute or 58 seconds left in the game and we can’t hold a team to less than a touchdown?” Vandals linebacker James Durrough asked incredulously. “It’s all on the defense.
“I can’t tell you what was going through my mind (during the final drive). You can’t write it down, but it wasn’t very nice. It seemed like everybody was looking around for the next person to make a play - including myself. But no one wanted to step up and make it.
“We just fell apart.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
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