HIGHLANDS RANCH — The opening Friday night of football across Colorado came with high expectations. But the ending to the Regis Jesuit and Valor Christian game became opening night magic.
Regis Jesuit, the No. 4 team in the Class 5A preseason CHSAANow rankings, needed overtime, but secured a 23-17 win over No. 2 Valor in an absolute thriller in Highlands Ranch. Tight end Grayson McPherson scored the game-winning touchdown on the Raiders’ first overtime possession, and showed to many why the Raiders are capable of making a run this year.
The Eagles got off to a good opening drive, as they made quick work to get into the red zone. However, the Raiders made the first big play of the night, with Regis’ Joshua Harvey recovering a fumble on the 12th play of the drive at the Raider 2-yard line.
Valor got on the board first with a 24-yard field goal from Jeremy Claycamp with 2:24 left in the opening frame, which came after a muffed punt attempt from the Raiders on their first drive of the season.
Valor fumbled for a second time in the quarter, and the Raiders made them pay three plays later. Quarterback Exander Carroll handed the ball off to junior running back Albert Medina, who rushed 51 yards down the sideline to give the Raiders a 10-3 lead with just 23 seconds left in the frame.
In the second quarter, the Raiders recorded their second turnover of the game as Carroll was hit as he threw and Valor returned it deep inside Regis’ territory. Nine plays later, Gabe Sawchuk scored from a yard out to give Valor a 10-7 edge.
Regis had a long drive to end the half and converted a line-drive 39-yard field goal from Pierce Martin to tie the game at 10-all at halftime.
The second half proved to be a barnburner, too.
After a long drive to start the second half, Claycamp missed a 30-yard attempt. Later, Valor took the lead on a 50-yard touchdown run by Roman Bradley to give the Eagles a 17-10 lead with 3:39 left in the third quarter.
However, Regis matched that almost instantly. On third-and-short, Carroll found D’andre Barnes, who sprinted down the sideline for a 73-yard score to tie the game at 17 with 2:39 left in the quarter. That would be the score heading into the fourth.
In the last quarter, Valor Christian had a long, 7-play drive, but it ended with an interception in the end zone by Josiah Harris for the fourth turnover of the night.
Regis countered with a long drive of its own to get the ball to field goal range and called a timeout with one second left. The potential game-winning kick was blocked in dramatic fashion, which forced a three-minute overtime period.
In Valor’s opening drive of overtime, the Raiders’ defense held firm and stopped Sawchuk and the offense from 15 yards out. On fourth-and-goal, Claycamp missed a field goal wide left from the five-yard line to keep it at 17.
Regis didn’t miss a beat. On their opening play, Carroll rolled out to his left and found McPherson alone in the end zone. He came down with the ball, and pandemonium ensued. Raider students rushed the field and mobbed the team in a classic.