With a shade over 30 seconds to play and the game tied, and a Golden Valley punt upcoming, Hart looked to put the ball into quarterback JT Shrout’s hands one last time Friday night.
Shrout never had to touch the ball, courtesy of Da’Von Jones.
Jones returned the punt 70 yards up the sideline for a touchdown, leaving just 13 seconds on the clock, and leading Hart to a 34-27 come-from-behind win over Golden Valley at College of the Canyons.
“Da’Von’s a beast,” said Shrout, searching for the words to try and describe what he just witnessed. “The kid is crazy with the ball in his hands. That’s what he does.”
Golden Valley had initially placed the Indians (6-3, 3-1 Foothill League) on their own 36 with a punt but elected to re-kick after a running into the kicker penalty, setting up Jones, who declared the return the No. 1 play of his football career.
“We needed a big win and all of us kept our heads up and leaned on each other,” Jones said. “Now we’ve got the win.”
Golden Valley had one last shot to at least force overtime from their own 41 but Michael Colangelo picked off Zack Chevalier’s pass to seal the win.
“I couldn’t be prouder of a group of guys in my 20-plus years of coaching,” said Golden Valley coach Dan Kelley of his team. “It came down to who had the ball last and they made the plays when it counted.”
Golden Valley (4-5, 1-3) was in full control during the first half, heading into the intermission with a 19-7 lead. Shrout was held to 59 yards through the air while completing 8 of 12 passes in the half. C.J. Ravenell collected two sacks and a tackle for a loss and DeGrabriel Floyd added a 16-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
“I loved the pressure the defense put on them in the first half,” Kelley said. “It’s just tough to contain a guy like (Shrout) who can throw it 50 yards downfield like he does.”
Jalin Lewis hauled in a 12-yard touchdown catch from Floyd in the first quarter and had an 11-yard touchdown run with a little over 3 minutes remaining in the second quarter. But it was all Shrout and D.J Palmer in the second half.
The two connected on touchdown passes of 19, 64 and 72 yards, with the 64-yarder coming on a 4th-and-26, tying the game at 27-27 with 2 minutes remaining. Shrout had exited the game just three plays earlier after being hit on the run while completing a 36-yard pass to Palmer. The Cal commit ended the night with 302 yards and the three touchdowns and completed 13 of 29 passes.
“We missed plays we usually make in the first half,” Shrout said. “We were able to recollect ourselves at halftime a bit.”
Floyd punched it in from 9 yards out of a wildcat formation with 8:31 remaining and converted a two-point conversion to give the Grizzlies a seven-point lead. Floyd ended with 91 yards on 12 carries to go with his two touchdowns.
D.J. Turner picked off Shrout the following possession but the Indians blocked a Carson Farber field goal to set up the Shrout-to-Palmer score to tie the game, and Jones’ game-winning return.
“You’re going to face adversity every week,” Shrout said. “For us to fight back and make those adjustments, that was huge.”