Special teams have produced special, albeit frantic, moments for desperate high school football teams lately.
None resulted in a more improbable finish than Oakmont's 44-43 victory over Lincoln on Friday with a bit of trickery that made ESPN's "SportsCenter" on Monday.
Down by seven points late in the game, the Vikings drove from their 16-yard line to the Lincoln 28 in four plays. Taylor Laird passed to Namani Parker for a touchdown as time expired to cut Lincoln's lead to 43-42.
A point-after kick could have tied the score and forced overtime. But losing three defensive starters to injuries "made us vulnerable down the stretch," said Oakmont coach Tim Moore, who wasn't sure his fatigued bunch could hold off Lincoln in overtime.
Lining up to kick the extra point, the Vikings instead ran a fake for the ages.
Laird, the holder, took the snap and stood with his back to the oncoming rush. He flipped the ball over his head to Justin Holmes in the end zone for the two-point conversion. Holmes outleaped Lincoln defenders for the catch and the victory.
The play triggered a wild celebration that continued when students returned to the Roseville campus on Monday. (Search "Oakmont conversion" on YouTube to watch the play.)
Moore was still breathing heavily Sunday.
"We practiced that play multiple times a week since August, and it worked every time," Moore said. "We didn't want to go into overtime. Crazy finish."
More special teams A week after Jorge Vega's first field-goal attempt of the season, a 32-yarder, gave struggling Grant a last-second 31-30 win over Del Oro, another unsung player came through in his first attempt.
On Friday, Danny Perez, a backup kicker for No. 16 Rio Linda, unexpectedly was thrust into a pressure-packed situation and responded with a 35-yard field goal to defeat upstart Ponderosa.
Perez replaced Jonathan Tafoya, one of the area's best. Tafoya was slowed by a leg strain from soccer, and in went an unsuspecting Perez after a late drive. Perez, for all his desire and leg drive, is the first to admit he's not the most accurate kicker.
"Somewhere in the middle of that drive, (assistant coach) Jack Garceau comes to me and asks if I am thinking field goal at all," Rio Linda coach Mike Morris said. "With a sick look on my face, I say, 'Yeah.' "
Perez watched after connecting with the ball, thinking his kick was short. But the ball cleared the crossbar, and Perez was mobbed by teammates and coaches as the Knights handed the Bruins their first loss of the season.
"The referees told me it cleared by less than a foot," Morris said. "Jack handed Perez the (kicking) tee just before he sent him out there. That was probably the right thing to do."
Victory at last Del Oro beat NorCal No. 3 Logan of Union City 20-13 in overtime on Friday in Loomis for its first victory of the season.
After falling to Oaks Christian (40-0), Westlake (16-13 in overtime), Burbank (28-23) and Grant (31-30), the Golden Eagles rejoiced after quarterback Zach LaBar passed to Cody Otten for the winner.
Otten knocked down a Logan fourth-down pass in the end zone a moment later.
LaBar also threw to Tyler Meteer for a touchdown, and reserve Dylan Kainrath rushed for 80 yards. He has been playing for starting tailback Brandon Monroe (strained knee).
"We really needed it," Del Oro coach Casey Taylor said of his 1-4 team. "We were so close to being 3-1 (before Friday). So proud of this group for staying with it, and they're still really hungry."
Del Oro opens Sierra Foothill League play this week as the defending champion against visiting Woodcreek.
THE BEE'S TOP 20
PR Previous ranking
School W-L PR
1. Elk Grove 5-0 1
2. Franklin 5-0 2
3. Burbank 5-0 3
4. Oak Ridge 5-0 4
5. Folsom 5-0 5
6. Placer 5-0 6
7. Nevada Union 3-2 7
8. Granite Bay 2-3 8
9. Inderkum 4-1 9
10. Pleasant Grove 3-2 10
11. Del Campo 3-2 11
12. Cosumnes Oaks 4-1 12
13. Jesuit 4-1 15
14. Rocklin 2-3 13
15. Grant 2-3 14
16. Rio Linda 4-1 16
17. Antelope 4-1 17
18. Monterey Trail 4-1 18
19. El Camino 4-1 19
20. Center 4-1 20