Patience, poise, four touchdowns by Kyran Harris and a whole lot of last-play prayer.
That was the recipe for Franklin High School on a wild Friday night in Del Paso Heights in a Delta Valley League opener that stamps the continued rise of The Bee No. 2-ranked Wildcats of Elk Grove and the sudden on-the-brink status of the Grant Pacers.
Charging back in the fourth quarter behind quarterback Isaiah Rios' three touchdown passes, Grant lined up for a potential game-winning field goal with two seconds left. Jorge Vega was the hero two weeks ago after his last-play boot downed Del Oro. This time, there was no celebration for the Pacers. There was Grant despair and Franklin euphoria.
Robert Sanders blocked the attempt, and Dionte Young scooped it up and raced 85 yards for a touchdown with no time left for a 34-26 victory over the stunned No. 15 Pacers.
"It's like being a defensive end you have to get around the edge and get in there to have a chance to block it," said Sanders, who blocked a field goal earlier this season against Cosumnes Oaks. "We needed it."
Franklin (6-0, 1-0) faces more tests in the DVC, none bigger than at top-ranked Elk Grove in 13 days.
Grant, meanwhile, is on the brink of something seemingly unthinkable in this region: missing the postseason. The Pacers (2-4, 0-1) must win out, including Friday against Elk Grove, to have a chance of extending their Sac-Joaquin Section-leading streak of 22 consecutive playoff berths.
But if Friday's spirited effort was a glimpse, there's still a lot of fight left in the Pacers, a program rocked by tragedy this fall and finding normalcy in football gear.
First it was the news of the murder-suicide involving popular longtime assistant coach Ed Coleman. Then it was the news of former Grant player and current Sacramento State defensive end John Bloomfield lapsing into a coma following lung surgery on Sept. 19. His family will take him off life support today.
On Wednesday, the Pacers family was floored again with news that 77-year-old Kia Vue the grandmother of Grant's all-time career kicking scorer Charlie Vue was found dead in her Robla apartment, beaten and strangled. Charlie Vue graduated from Grant in the spring and now attends UC Davis. Vega, the current Grant kicker, replaced Charlie Vue this season.
"October will define us, our character and pride," Grant defensive coordinator Reggie Harris said. "We've still got a lot left."
Franklin went with a no-huddle attack and power football.
Harris bulled and sprinted his way for 137 yards. He had first-half touchdowns of 8, 5 and 17 yards and opened the second half with a 70-yard burst for a 28-13 lead.
Rios hit Trayvon Henderson for Grant scores of 48 and 15 yards and found Treivon Brooks from eight yards out with 51 seconds to go to cut it to 28-26. Grant recovered the onside kick, and three plays later set up its last chance.