CENTRAL POINT — Only minutes after Lebanon had scored its sixth touchdown of the day to cut Crater’s lead to 47-41, the Comets faced a crucial fourth-and-6 from the Lebanon 49-yard line. With 3 minutes, 1 second remaining in the first-round Class 5A playoff game, the conservative approach called for a Comets punt and a rah-rah speech by the defensive coordinator concerning its do-or-die situation.
But on the Crater sideline, head coach Randy Waite asked his team if maybe it was a good time to spring the fake punt they had been working on in practice. The Comets’ reaction: “Let’s do it.”
“And I said, ‘OK, let’s do it,’” Waite said. “They executed it perfectly.”
Crater quarterback/punter Trever Davis hit Trevor Jaasko with a perfect 11-yard rollout pass on the fake punt and the Comets were able to run out the clock from there for a wild 47-41 victory Friday at Dutch Meyer Field.
The win, Crater’s sixth in its last seven games, advanced the eighth-seeded Comets (7-3) to the 5A quarterfinals, where they will face a familiar foe in Wilsonville. The No. 1-seeded Wildcats, who crushed Ridgeview 54-20 in another first-round game, beat Crater 53-20 in both teams’ season opener on Aug. 31.
The Comets trailed 28-20 at the half against Lebanon before exploding for four touchdowns early in the second half to open up a 47-28 lead. Davis threw three of his five touchdown passes during the game-breaking deluge — two to Jaasko, who had five catches for 105 yards and four touchdowns.
Lebanon (7-3), which had a four-game winning streak snapped, used two long scoring drives to get back within six on Colton Shepard’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Eddy Kennedy with 4 minutes to go, but Crater’s Jacob Memmott recovered a dangerous, up-for-grabs onside kick and Crater survived.
Lebanon coach Ty Tomlin said it is always hard when a season ends short of a championship.
"A little bit disappointed. The talent we had was definitely better than where we finished," Tomlin said. "Unless you win it all, it's always a frustrating time of year."
Tomlin said turnovers were the decisive factor in the contest. The Warriors gave up three turnovers and had a punt blocked. They also failed to convert on an attempted fake punt. Lebanon was also hit with some costly penalties.
"Things we talked about at the beginning of the year that we had to eliminate," Tomlin said.
Crater's Davis completed 14 of 29 passes for 194 yards and five touchdowns and was at his best when Crater needed him most, down by eight to start the third quarter after giving up a 45-yard Shepard-to-Keith Brown touchdown pass on fourth-and-5 with 38 seconds to go in the first half.
It took five plays for the Comets to carry out their coach’s plan, with Gavin Acrey’s 9-yard run finishing off a 40-yard drive. That cut Lebanon’s lead to 28-27 after Davis’ point-after, and the Comets defense got the ball right back on the next play from scrimmage when Shepard was rocked, fumbled, and Crater’s Hunter Van Sickle landed on it at the Lebanon 25.
Davis made the Warriors pay moments later when he found Jaasko between defenders in the end zone. The pass was high, but the athletic 6-foot-1 wideout put his fingertips to good use and Crater led 34-28.
A blocked punt by Tony Flores gave the Comets a first down near midfield with still 4:56 to go in the third, and again the Davis-to-Jaasko combination went to work. This time, Davis tossed a lob toward the goal line to Jaasko, who caught the scoring pass.
Already up 40-28, the Comets added one more touchdown early in the fourth quarter — a 7-yard Davis pass to a wide-open Ethan Scott on third down. The score and point-after gave the Comets a 47-28 lead with 10:40 to go and seemed like the clincher, especially after Lebanon faced a fourth-and-10 on its next series. But the resilient Warriors, who finished third in District 3, used a reverse to convert and managed to string together one last gasp.
Then it was time for Crater to roll the dice on the fake punt, a play the Comets had not attempted, let alone executed previously.
Davis, who also punts, took the snap at about the Crater 40, rolled right and threw to the cutting Jaasko. Lebanon’s Casey Brooks was in pursuit but had no play on the ball as Jaasko, running a square out, sprinted out of bounds with the first down.
Shepard, the Warriors senior quarterback, played a strong game completing 17 of 30 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Brown added 119 yards rushing on six carries. He also caught three passes for 101 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Chaz Daniels added 98 yards rushing on 10 carries with a touchdown.
Looking ahead to next year, the Warriors graduate Shepard, Daniels and four-fifths of their offensive line, along with numerous other starters.
"We have a lot of open spots," Tomlin said. "You never know what kids will decide to do in the offseason. If these kids buy in and put the time in to build what they want for next season, we'll be OK. If they choose not to do that, it will be more difficult."
CRATER 47, LEBANON 41
Lebanon 14 14 0 13 — 41
Crater 13 7 20 7 — 47
C — Flores 1 run (kick blocked)
L — Barrett 10 run (de Jong kick)
C — Jaasko 13 pass from Davis (Davis kick)
L — Daniels 59 run (de Jong kick)
L — Brown 69 run (de Jong kick)
C — Jaasko 22 pass from Davis (Davis kick)
L — Brown 45 pass from Shepard (de Jong kick)
C — Acrey 9 run (Davis kick)
C — Jaasko 25 pass from Davis (Davis kick)
C — Jaasko 34 pass from Davis (Davis kick)
C — Scott 7 pass from Davis (Davis kick)
L — Kennedy 15 pass from Shepard (kick failed)
L — Kennedy 11 pass from Shepard (de Jong kick)
Rushing: Lebanon - Brown 6-119, Daniels 10-98, Shepard 11-46, Barrett 2-11, Miller 1-5; Crater - Acrey 11-74, Davis 16-21
Passing: Lebanon - Shepard 17-30-1-234; Crater - Davis 14-29-0-194
Receiving: Lebanon - Brown 3-101, Kennedy 9-101, Weber 3-23, Carlson 1-9, Meads 1-0; Crater - Jaasko 5-105, Sherer 2-45, Cline 1-32, Acrey 1-22, Kinney 2-16, Scott 2-14
Les Gehrett of the Lebanon Express contributed to this story