In a game that was a defensive coordinator’s nightmare, the Central Valley Bears somehow managed to keep their slim postseason hopes alive Thursday with a heart-stopping, jaw-dropping 62-55 overtime win over the Shadle Park Highlanders at Joe Albi Stadium.
It took a record-setting boot from their senior place-kicker and an interception on the final play for the Bears to withstand a record-setting performance from Shadle Park sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien.
Most of the crowd of just less than 1,000 – with a sparse turnout by CV followers – was still around when, as time expired, Austin Rehkow drilled a 67-yard field goal – believed to have tied the second-longest field goal in national high school history.
The field goal broke the Washington state record (62 yards).
A 5-yard touchdown run by Grayson Sykes, his fifth of the game, on the fourth play of CV’s overtime possession provided the offensive difference.
Then on Shadle’s first OT play CV defensive back Scott Hilpert, who had been beat on a couple of plays earlier in the game, came up with his fourth interception of the season when he picked off a pass intended for Tanner Pauly in the end zone.
It was a game for the GSL ages.
Rehkow said that he had attempted a few kicks from 67 yards during an overly windy practice Tuesday.
“To be truthful, we kicked some 67-yarders two days ago with the wind behind me and I didn’t make any of those,” Rehkow said. “So to be able to do that in a game is just a great feeling.”
The kick exceeded his previous best by 11 yards.
Rehkow asked CV coach Rick Giampietri to let him try the tying field goal.
“This was our only shot and he took it,” Giampietri said. “He said ‘You put me out there and I’ll do it.’ It was crazy.”
The late drama overshadowed an otherwise outstanding game by Rypien. He needed just 44 yards to leap to the top of the all-time GSL single season list, and he blew that away and some.
Rypien completed 35 of 49 attempts for 577 yards. He became the first quarterback to eclipse 500 yards, smashing his and the league’s previous best of 483 that he had in a 48-35 loss to University in mid September. Rypien also moved to the front of the Washington state pack for single-game throwing by 61 yards.
“He’s crazy, he’s good, and we blitzed the heck out of him,” Giampietri said. “He ran around and (made) plays. Unbelievable.”
Giampietri was overcome by elation afterward, often speaking through giggles.
“We’ve never given up 55 points and won,” Giampietri said. “I’ve never been involved in a game like that.”
Rehkow had made just 50 percent of his field-goal attempts (7 of14) going into the game.
“I felt confident in my leg strength,” Rehkow said. “I went out there and you get that extra adrenaline going. I let it rip. Luckily it stayed through the uprights and once I saw the arms go up (from the referees) it was just an overwhelming feeling of joy.
Rehkow received a partial offer from Eastern Washington University this week. The attention from his feat will undoubtedly bring him more attention.
“I’m going to keep my options open,” Rehkow said. “Hopefully, some offers arrive. I’m grateful for the one that Eastern’s proposed and hopefully we get some more coming in here. I couldn’t have done it without a great team putting me in the position. The line gave me enough time. Great snap, great hold. It’s a real humbling experience to hold the (GSL) record now.”
Giampietri was thrilled that Hilpert got the game-ending interception.
“Scotty got picked on most of the game.” Giampietri said.
CV (6-2) took a 52-48 lead when running back Brandon McClung scored on a 17-yard run with 1:04 remaining.
“The only problem we had was we scored too soon,” Giampietri said. “We didn’t take enough time off the clock.”
Sure enough, Rypien engineered a five-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with a 29-yard TD pass to a wide open Nick Kiourkas on a fade pattern. The point-after kick gave Shadle (3-5) a 55-52 lead with 21 seconds to go.
CV used a hook-and-ladder play to get to midfield, and on came Rehkow with 2 seconds showing on the clock.