Jumping into the air, Noah Scarver felt weightless.
"I felt like I could touch the moon if I wanted," Scarver said of his leaping catch Friday night that capped a 19-18 rally over Minneapolis Southwest.
Floating his direction was the weight of 27 years of victories against the City Conference rival. The Millers trailed the Lakers by five points with 1 minute, 17 seconds remaining and a winning streak much older than the players in jeopardy.
The 6-5 Minneapolis Washburn tight end, who had promised his teammates at halftime that he would win the game for them, sprang into the air to pull down the six points the Millers needed for a dramatic one-point victory on homecoming.
"Crazy. I knew we could do it. We had won this thing 27 years in a row, we can't give up now," said Scarver, who caught five passes for 115 yards.
The 11-point turnaround began when Jason Williams intercepted Southwest quarterback Darin Richardson midway through the fourth quarter. That led to a quick touchdown. After a defensive stop, Washburn coach Giovan Jenkins went to the air with the game on the line. Southwest had shut down Jeff Jones' normally stellar running game.
"If that's the only thing that's working, [Scarver] is a pretty good only thing to have," Jenkins said. "We would live or die with [the pass]."
The coach gleefully rattled the City Conference championship bell after the fans rushed the field. Jenkins took a sigh of relief knowing that the coveted bell likely would remain safely at Washburn for another year.
"The guys were resilient,'' he said. "I don't know what I would have done if they would have taken the bell away from us."
Rain drenched the Lakers minutes after the game they thought was theirs. For 42 minutes they outplayed Washburn, but they were overwhelmed in the final six. Southwest's Dantavian Sears scored two touchdowns, one a 62-yard rush and the other a 70-yard kickoff return. He finished with 224 all-purpose yards.
Washburn survived four turnovers, using the two Southwest turnovers as scoring opportunities in the second half after being shut out in the first two quarters.