Ballou wide receiver LaBron Johnson ran across the field Friday, waving his arms as he celebrated a 29-26 win over Theodore Roosevelt that seemed unlikely when his team trailed by 13 points at midway through the third quarter.
If the Knights were worried when they were behind, they didn’t show it. A touchdown pass late in the third quarter from senior quarterback Aaron Penny to senior wide receiver Lavonte Gater sparked a rally that was completed in the game’s final five seconds when the same players struck again.
“We all had to come together. Everybody wanted to win this game,” Penny said. “So we came together and won this game.”
Since it was leading by five with less than two minutes to go, it appeared Theodore Roosevelt (3-1, 0-1 DCIAA Stars) would hold on . Ballou (2-2, 1-0) had other plans.
An offensive gaffe by Roosevelt allowed the Knights to gain possession with just over a minute remaining. Ballou took advantage. Penny connected with Gater for a 21-yard touchdown pass with 4.7 seconds left — putting Ballou ahead by a point. A two-point conversion by Ballou twisted the knife.
“If you were able to see Lavonte through his career, you’ll see a lot of one-on-one where he hangs on to catches,” Ballou Coach Minoso Rodgers said. “It was just one of those times I just told the quarterback, ‘Take a step back, make the throw and try and get it to Lavonte.’ ”
For the Roughriders, the last-minute defeat was a backbreaker in an otherwise strong showing. This is their first year in the Stars Division after previously competing in the Stripes. They won their first three games outside league play before Ballou proved to be their first real challenge.
Asked about the Roughriders’ level of play in their first game in the new division, Penny said, “They have to work harder.”
Rodgers said his team trains to prepare for all situations and focused on getting back in the game one play at a time.
“Our starting quarterback, Aaron Penny, came back and did what he needed to do,” Rodgers said.