RANDOLPH The Randolph Cardinals appeared headed for a second straight loss to open the season Friday night, with a matchup against Maple Grove looming next weekend.
What a difference 15 seconds made.
Trailing, 12-7, in the waning minutes, the Cardinals forced a Silver Creek fumble as the Black Knights attempted to run out the clock. Randolph took possession at the Silver Creek 38 and, following an incomplete pass, quarterback Mitchell Maycock hit a wide-open Jordan Dowiasz at the 20 and the senior running back did the rest, scampering into the corner of the end zone with 2:08 remaining in the game.
On their ensuing possession, the Black Knights worked the ball into Randolph territory but their comeback attempt fell short as Randolph held on for the 13-12 Class D victory.
''Wow,'' Randolph coach Pat Slater said. ''Talk about going from the penthouse to the doghouse and back up to the penthouse again. That was fun. It was kind of a dragging game with not much happening, then all of a sudden it got pretty exciting.''
The win evened the Cardinals record at 1-1, while the Black Knights fell to 0-2 in heartbreaking fashion.
''I thought we played great defense. They kept us in the ballgame,'' Silver Creek coach Sean Helmer said. ''We had it. We just let it slip.''
The first half featured plenty of defense with very little offense. Each team made one big play on offense and that was about it.
Randolph opened the scoring when Dowiasz tore through the line and outraced the defensive backs to the end zone for a 61-yard score. Micah Kehoe hit the extra point for a 7-0 lead midway through the first period.
Silver Creek answered when quarterback Nick Iskra hit Zeddie Williams on a short pass and the senior running back evaded would-be tacklers along the sideline to score from 59 yards out. A failed placement on the extra point attempt left the score at 7-6 with about nine minutes remaining in the first half.
Take away the two scoring plays and the two teams combined for less than 50 total yards of offense in the first half.
''The defenses were very aggressive,'' Slater said. ''They were coming after you and making big plays. Every yard was tough to get.''
Zeddie Williams put the Black Knights ahead in the third quarter when he caught a screen pass and again beat the defense, this time scoring from 70 yards out. His two-point conversion run came up short, leaving Silver Creek on top, 12-7, midway through the third period.
Late in the third quarter, Randolph put together a solid drive, taking the ball from its own 9 to the Silver Creek 6. But a penalty backed them up five yards and on the next play, Maycock's pass across the middle was intercepted by Anthony Morales and returned 30 yards.
The two teams traded punts before the Black Knights took over at their own 35 with 2:37 left to play and the five-point lead. On second down, Silver Creek fumbled the ball at the line of scrimmage and sophomore lineman Jeff Andrews pounced on it.
Seconds later, Dowiasz found the end zone, setting off a celebration among the Randolph players and fans.
''We probably should have called timeout,'' Helmer said about the game-winning play. ''It was a formation that we hadn't gone over and it just didn't work out.''
Dowiasz finished with six carries for 74 yards and a touchdown and two receptions for 56 yards and a score. Alex Miinte added nine carries for 46 yards and Jared Pitchford had seven carries for 21 yards. Maycock completed 5 of 13 passes for 86 yards.
The Cardinals' defense was led by Cody Oldro's 13 tackles and three assists. Nick Hettenbaugh and Chris Doubek each added nine tackles and one assist.
Zeddie Williams had a great game through the air, catching six passes for 165 yards and the two touchdowns. He was limited on the ground, however, as he tallied just 19 yards on 13 carries.
''That young man is a football player. He is tough to tackle,'' Slater said. ''Our kids did a heck of a job.''
Iskra completed 8 of 20 passes for 190 yards, while Sherman Williams had 11 carries for 20 yards and Tyler Bain three carries for 25 yards.
The game was delayed 58 minutes after lightning was seen in the area two minutes into the game. In the end it was worth the wait for Slater and the Cardinals.
''It's huge,'' Slater said. ''The momentum hopefully will carry into next week. The kids will come back now with a good feeling about themselves. They're young and they made a lot of mistakes but they can play.''