“All week, coach (Chuck) Long just told me to be strong to the catch, strong to the catch,” Dean said. “And when I realized it was a little far, I knew I had to make a play on it.”
A one-handed play.
The Tigers needed it. They’d scored fast, but hadn’t scored since. The next big play was going to be a big deal and Dean made it.
A little later, A.J. West, Yukon’s fantastic tailback, went around the left side and appeared gone, but NHS safety Jonathan Peters had an angle. Not a great angle but an angle. Getting there was going to be a great play.
He got there.
West ran for an amazing 264 yards, but he got 29 on that play instead of 52. He got 10 on the next play and Blake Biggs got four after that. But looking at first-and-goal from the 7, Yukon went nowhere, and after a mediocre snap and a sloppy hold and a hooked kick, the Tigers had the ball and the Millers still hadn’t scored.
“We’re about to get chewed out,” is what Peters said he was thinking chasing West. “So I ran as fast as I could.”
That wasn’t all.
“Every time I step on the field, I fear my opponent, and if you fear something, you’re going to attack it,” Peters said. “I was like a cheetah chasing an impala.”
Or a Tiger chasing a Miller, but whatever works.
Peters’ tackle loomed so much larger a few minutes into the second half, when Yukon went the length of the field for its only touchdown, making it 17-7 instead of 17-14.
Also, the Millers might have enjoyed a much different night had Codey Sanchez got things going in the Tiger secondary. The Miller is one of the state’s best receivers, but he ran into Tiger corner Boston Lewis, who didn’t exactly make one huge play so much as keep Sanchez from making any.