Last play of season lifts Perry's spirits after Nevada loss
Thanks to a penalty as time expired, Perry had one more chance at ending the shutout.
396 minutes passed by this season for the Bluejays this year without scoring. Then Abe Ruiz landed in the end zone with time expired for his first career touchdown.
"The plan was just to catch the ball in the end zone and that happened," Ruiz told the Perry Chief in a message after the game. "There was really no pressure. I had confidence in my QB to get the ball. It meant a lot scoring on the last play of the season. Couldn't be prouder of this team."
From the looks of it, the team couldn't be prouder of him either. Head coach Bryce Pierce said he had messages and calls rolling in Saturday morning from players as if it was Perry (0-8) that had won 69-6 over Nevada (6-2) instead of the other way around in Friday's postseason opener.
"You would have thought we just pulled off the greatest upset in the state of Iowa," Pierce said. "We had kids that are rushing the field and everything. It just goes to show you that a lot of kids really do care about football."
That 10-yard pass from Jeremiah Baker was the break the Bluejays were looking for all season and it wasn't even in the playbook. Pierce said after the team drove down the field in 90 seconds in one of the team's first no-huddle situations of the year, they just drew up routes to get in the end zone and thin-out Nevada's coverage. Baker's pass bobbled in Ruiz's hands but turned into six points all the same.
While it wasn't enough to overcome the score that Nevada had already run up to 42-0 after one quarter, the play was enough to close this difficult chapter on its highest note possible to tease what hopes to be sweeter stories in the future.
"We have a long way to go making sure we're more competitive on Friday night but I think this is absolutely the perfect springboard for us heading into another season that begins now," Pierce said. "Finally breaking through that barrier we had all season. Literally the last play. I think guys are excited."
Pierce said he fully intends on coming back for a second season and hopes to see a bulk of the young group — Ruiz and Baker among them as juniors — return in 2021 as only four seniors were on the final roster. Players are already working together in the new multipurpose and building competition among the team itself in a range of agility and strength training.
Along with the touchdown pass at the end, Baker also connected for 28 yards with senior Jeanlukas Martinez to help get into scoring position.
Elsewhere, sophomore Juan Hernandez picked up 14 yards on a fourth quarter run for his longest play of the year to make up for lost ground in the first three quarters. On defense, senior Franny Colin wrapped up as season-high 11 total tackles while junior Emmanuel Soto was in on eight stops and a sack. Junior linemen Carlos Sandoval and Alan Gomez also recorded five tackles.
Perry’s season concludes for the third year in a row without a win while Nevada advances to the second round of the postseason where they will face Ballard.