By John Baker
Teams that come up big late in games are often called “cardiac kids.”
After Friday’s game between Lowell High School and Galileo, both teams might be suffering from some angina.
The visiting Cardinals came from behind late to tie the game at 22-22 after Michael McCarthy’s 1-yard touchdown, but missed the extra-point wide right.
The Lions made the most of the 28 seconds remaining in the game, barreling 60 yards on two plays for the game-winning touchdown to give Galileo a 29-22 Academic Athletic Association win.
The deciding score came on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Galileo junior quarterback Kyle Nelson to Isaac Armstrong with 5 seconds remaining.
“That was tough. A lot of things went their way,” said Lowell head coach Danny Chan. “Their quarterback is great. [He does] a lot of improvising. We were covering the guy he threw it to, but he kind of ran away from our kid.”
The winning score was set up by Nelson’s 35-yard scramble in pressure on the first play from scrimmage after Lowell’s score. It was the longest play of the game.
“I don’t know [how I did it]. I just played. I didn’t think about it,” Nelson said. “I know [Lowell was] going to be extra-aggressive because of the time and the score. They were really jumping hard [at me], so I was just patient and was calm.”
The win puts Galileo (3-5-1, 2-3) in a good position for the playoffs, and was a big boost of confidence for a team that has had trouble finishing games.
“In the Washington game, when they scored at the end, the players kind of gave up. Here, they didn’t give up,” said Galileo head coach Mark Huynh. “Kyle made a huge run, then a huge pass, so I feel good for Kyle – taking all the hits and everything. Now he’s they guy making the big plays.”
Lowell (4-4, 3-2) took a 16-7 lead into the halftime break after a 10-yard touchdown run by McCarthy and a 5-yard run by William Kim (the game’s leading rusher, with 103 yards on 15 carries), each followed by a two-point conversion.
Galileo got an 81-yard interception return by junior Dontell Jackson for its only score in the first half, then took a 22-15 lead behind a 32-yard shovel pass from Nelson to Jackson and a 15-yard run by Ronzel Fox with 4:08 left in the game.
The Cardinals got the ball on their own 42-yard line after Fox’s score and took eight plays to get up the field and score on McCarthy’s second touchdown of the game. McCarthy, also the placekicker, just barely went outside the uprights on the final extra-point try.
“We would’ve went for two, but I was confident in our kicker,” Chan said. “The snap was a little off. I would do that every time.”
The missed extra point, which turned an almost-assured loss into a chance to win with a score, energized Galileo.
“[It] definitely [helped], because that would’ve been it,” said Armstrong, who scored the winning touchdown on his only reception of the game. “It gave us momentum.”
Nelson, who completed 5-of-10 passes for 95 yards, then had his big run.
McCarthy, beside his two touchdowns, had 16 carries for 75 yards and the Lowell offense tallied 275 yards rushing. Fox had 74 yards on 11 carries for Galileo.