The Watersprings Warriors staged an epic comeback Friday afternoon, defending their Rocky Mountain Conference football championship with a 28-20 win over the North Gem Cowboys.
Playing in front of a packed house at Watersprings High School on Homecoming Day, the Warriors flipped the script on a 20-6 deficit, scoring three touchdowns over the game's final nine minutes.
After managing just 60 yards during the first half, Watersprings (4-2) put up 222 in the second half, including a 7-for-7, 105-yard passing effort from sophomore standout quarterback Jrew Plocher.
Plocher finished with four passing touchdowns on the day, including two to senior Gavin Tomlinson.
"Finishing this way in my final home game is more than I could ask for," Tomlinson said. "I almost puked before this game, I was so nervous. But once we got out here, all that went away, and I knew we were never out. We just had to keep going."
Watersprings gave up two early scores to the Cowboys, and a Plocher-to-Tomlinson score in the final minute of the first half kept the game in reach at 14-6.
North Gem had other ideas, taking the ball 55 yards on seven plays on the first possession of the second half to make the score 20-6.
But that was the last time the Cowboys threatened the red zone, stoned on their next four possessions by a determined Watersprings defense.
"Down the way we were, I just figured we needed to start making things happen," Tomlinson said. "And we had to start making them happen now."
The Warriors were stopped on downs on their first possession, and didn't get the ball a second time until the 11:54 mark of the fourth quarter.
Three minutes later, Plocher found teammate Peyton West in the west corner of the end zone to make it 20-14.
After another stop, Plocher hit senior Brayden Remer in the flat, and Remer broke a leg tackle and took the ball 50 yards to the house.
Another defensive stop gave the Warriors the ball at midfield with 57 seconds remaining and the score knotted at 20.
It was then that Plocher handed the ball to team anchorman Matt Almgren, who took the ball up the left side 45 yards to the 5-yard line.
With the clock running and the home fans in fits, Plocher found Tomlinson again in the east flat for what turned out to be the winning score with 17 seconds left.
"It really all comes down to the O-line blocking and allowing the play to happen," Plocher said, with junior lineman Parker Strahm standing at his elbow. "I've been part of a lot of organizations, but this one has to be the one with the most heart."
The Warriors have one week off before entering the 1AD2 state playoffs as the No. 1 seed out of District 5-6. They will host the fourth seed out of District 4 in the state opener, either Oct. 30 or 31.