Sand Devils lose homecoming heartbreaker

Chronicle archive photo

By Mike Caywood
Lake Powell Chronicle

PAGE – In one of the most entertaining games in recent years the Page Sand Devils’ 15-game 3A division winning streak was halted in a triple overtime thriller to the Ganado Hornets 54-52. The 2019 homecoming game pretty much had about everything you wanted including a bizarre ending.

As with most of the games this year the Sand Devils fell behind early and at halftime trailed 20-6. Gabe Gomez who ended the night with 217 yards on 30 carries scored the only touchdown for the Sand Devils in the first half on a 10-yard run midway through the second quarter.

The second half didn’t start much better as Ganado’s star junior running back Tony Shirly took the kickoff 90 yards for the score to make it 26-6. The Sand Devils then scored on their next three possessions and when Gomez rumbled from 7 yards out the comeback was in full swing as Ganado’s lead was now only two 26-24. The Hornets then shook off the Sand Devils onslaught and marched right down the field and scored on a 20-yard pass play to put them up 32-24.

The Sand Devils continued to own the second half and when Robert Smith galloped 18 yards for the score and with bruising fullback Nik Yazzie diving into the end zone for the 2-point conversion the comeback was complete, and the Sand Devils were headed to overtime with the score 32-32.

In the first overtime Ganado scored on a 10-yard run by Shirley and then he again scored on the two-point conversion to put the Hornets ahead 40-32.

The Sand Devils were not to be denied as Gabe Gomez’s 2-yard burst and then Robert Smith’s pass to Dahntay Dunbar for the 2-point conversion tied the game again at 40-40.

The second overtime again saw Ganado score first but on the 2-point conversion the Sand Devils defense held to make the score 46-40. The Sand Devils who never gave up in this back and forth affair scored on a nifty 3-yard run by quarterback Smith. Unfortunately, the 2-point conversion also failed and at this point the game ended at 46-46 at least according to the officials.

This is where it gets weird. Well, the officials on the field were apparently confused on how to handle a game that was still tied after two overtimes.

So, after some deliberation they decided to call the game over, and the two teams went to the 50-yard line shook hands with one another as did the coaches. Not so fast as 10 minutes later the officials found out that a game cannot end in a tie, and the teams had to get back on the field and begin a third overtime.

At this point the stands were almost empty but the Sand Devil and Ganado players did what they were told and came back on the field and began doing stretches and warmups, a full half-hour after they thought the game was already done.

The third overtime began as the first two did with the Hornets scoring first and this time, they successfully completed the 2-point conversion and quickly took a 54-46 lead. On the Sand Devils third overtime possession they again gutted it out and found their way to the end zone on Gabe Gomez’s 1-yard plunge.

But on the 2-point conversion the Ganado defense came up big and held check to finally end this crazy game winning 54-52.  

In a game that had about everything the Sand Devils great comeback fell a little short, but Coach Leland Billie said he was “so proud of his team and that they could have so easily quit at different points in the game, but they kept fighting.”

The Sand Devil now our 2-1 in the 3A North division and 2-5 overall. Next up is the Chinle Wildcats on Friday, Oct. 25. Game time is 7 p.m.