The moment of reckoning had arrived.
Fourth down and 5. Glen Allen ball on the Mills Godwin 46.
Just under 3 minutes remained in the matchup of Colonial District rivals on a cool, clear Friday night at Axselle Stadium.
The momentum favored the Jaguars.
Bring it on, Justin Harris’s inner voice said. Test me. Throw it my way again. You tried once. It didn’t work. It won’t work this time either. Just watch. You’ll see.
Seconds later, the pass across the middle spiraled true toward its target.
Just past the line of scrimmage, Harris, as if by instinct, leaped high, snatched the football one-handed from the air, then returned it to the visitors’ 34, whence the Eagles ran out the clock and claimed a hard-fought, well-earned 21-14 victory.
“Two plays before, they tried me with a slant,” said Harris, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior defensive back. “It was well defended. They yelled out the same play. I stood right beside him [the receiver], read his hips, and made a perfect play on the ball.
“The quarterback stepped up and launched it. I saw it, and it was like, I got to get the ball. We need to end this game.”
Quarterback Luke Calveric completed 7 of 17 passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns.
The first was a 17-yard connection off a broken play to Cohen Busbee, who made a diving catch in the end zone to end the Eagles’ first offensive series.
The second was a 14-yard pass to Harris, who made a leaping catch in the back of the end zone despite solid coverage to conclude a five-play, 24-yard drive set up after linebacker Connor Boyd recovered a Glen Allen fumble.
After the Jaguars’ Marquis Belle returned the second-half kickoff 81 yards for a score, the Eagles answered with a quick strike: a pass to the left flat to Harris, who raced 59 yards to the house.
Matthew Gavin’s third point-after gave Godwin a 21-7 lead at 9:53 of the second period.
“I give props to my receivers,” said Calveric, a 6-5, 190-pound senior. “They do a great job getting open. They see a lot more things than I can, so they tell me what’s working, especially on that long screen to Justin Harris.
“I take no credit on that other than I got him the ball as fast as I could. That run was all him.”
After the Jaguars (1-3) stopped Godwin (2-3) on fourth-and-2, they traveled 42 yards on seven plays, the last a 1-yard run by Patrick Carey. Cole West’s PAT cut the visitors’ deficit to a touchdown 7:09 from the end.
With the offensive line pulling yeoman’s duty, the Eagles amassed 259 yards (173 passing, 86 rushing) on 47 plays.
“The O-line is the most important part of football because we’re making contact every play and it’s very intense,” said Daniel Seo, a 6-0, 235-pound senior guard. “Without us, football doesn’t work.”
The Eagles surrendered just 156 yards (99 rushing, 57 passing) on 50 plays in a game that was a positive step in P.J. Adams’ rebuilding program.
“Our kids have bought in,” said Godwin’s first-year coach. “We’re getting better now. We knew Glen Allen wasn’t going to quit. We just had to fight and hold on and get through the game.”
Glen Allen 0 0 7 7 — 14
Mills Godwin 7 7 7 0 — 21
MG — Busbee 17 pass from Calveric (Gavin kick)
MG — Harris 14 pass from Calveric (Gavin kick)
GA — Belle 81 kickoff return (West kick)
MG — Harris 59 pass from Calveric (Gavin kick)
GA — Carey 1 run (West kick)
GA — Moss 13-42, Milwit 7-26, Noel 5-19, Carey 3-12; MG –Johnson-Harris 12-39, Calveric 13-34, Orpiano 4-11, Clark 1-2.