A last-minute interception allowed the visiting Healdsburg Greyhounds to escape with a17-13 win over Sonoma Valley Friday night at Arnold Field in front of an overflow homecoming crowd.
The turnover came with just 42 seconds remaining in the game and effectively squelched the Dragons attempt to come from behind on their final drive.
After getting the ball on their own seven-yard line with just 2:34 to play, the Dragons marched all the way to the Greyhounds 36 before turning the ball over on the interception. Along the way senior quarterback Sam Morgan hit three different receivers while passing for 62 yards on seven completions. Unfortunately on a third-and-six play, the Greyhound defensive back read the play perfectly and stepped in front of the Dragon receiver for the game-deciding interception.
The Dragons scored first, taking advantage of head coach Mick O’Meara’s mid-week insertion of the flanker pass when sophomore Dan Deely took a pitch and then found senior Chris Swanson for a 41-yard scoring strike and a 7-0 lead with 4:07 left in the first quarter.
Healdsburg countered with a 29-yard scoring dash by Spencer Engleke to tie the score at seven in the late stages of the first quarter. Engelke was subbing for Healdsburg’s top runner, Gerardo Cervantes, who did not play. Engelke filled in admirably, and seemed headed for a big night as he found his stride in the second quarter when he scored again from a yard out on his way to 89 first-half rushing yards.
However, Engelke took a hard hit shortly after halftime and did not return to the contest. His absence, combined with some solid tackling by seniors Josh Jones and Morgan, helped hold Healdsburg scoreless in the second half.
Trailing 17-7 at the half, Sonoma responded with a pair of good drives to open the third quarter, but could only manage to get six points out of the key possessions. The first drive looked promising, but was slowed by a holding penalty after reaching the Healdsburg 10-yard line, and the scoring chance fizzled away on a missed field goal attempt.
The Dragons did cross the goal line on their next possession, capped by Dan Deely’s five-yard blast to pay dirt, but a missed conversion try kept the margin at two scores 17-13. Deely made a key 11-yard reception on a pass from Morgan on third-and-nine to keep the scoring drive alive.
Although the Greyhounds fumbled early in the final quarter, Sonoma was unable to take advantage with both of their first two possessions ending in punts. A sack by senior linebacker Eric Clouse forced the Greyhounds to punt near midfield, setting up the Dragons final drive.