Some clutch picks and merciless marching was all that separated the Terry Fox Ravens and the Centennial Centaurs on Saturday.
That, and an ankle injury to Cents star running back Nathan Lund.
Terry Fox advanced to the B.C. Subway Bowl AAA football quarterfinals with a dramatic 21-20 triumph over its cross-district rivals, outlasting the Centaurs in a game of gambles, scrambles and timely defensive gems.
Jason Shamatutu hauled down an interception at midfield five minutes into the third quarter to set up Mate McLeod-Genest's six-yard touchdown run, his second of the game. It put Fox ahead 20-12 and was followed by Brian Hope's point-after attempt, which would prove to be the winning margin.
"[Shamatutu] can't catch the ball ? offence but on defence he got the icks - go figure," grinned Ravens o-coach Tom Kudaba of his safety's wo interceptions.
The lanky Grade 11 safety also pulled down another Centennial pass early in the fourth quarter at the Ravens' 32-yard line to squelch a Centaur charge.
However, a poor snap a few plays later presented the Coquitlam crew with one last chance to stay within striking distance - and this time they took advantage.
Cents' quarterback Nick Okamoto hit Jake Bye with a 15-yard TD pass, followed by a two-point convert toss to Jordan Kennedy to make it 21-20 with four minutes left in regulation time.
When they got the ball back with just over a minute to play, the Cents advanced to the Fox 35-yard line on a pass to Isaiah Stewart and a pass interference call againt the Ravens.
On Centennial's final play, Adrial Sellers intercepted Okamoto's pass to lock up the win for Fox.
"It wasn't exactly the play I called, it was a Hail Mary pass but the patterns weren't quite what we called," sighed Centennial head coach Ryk Piche.
"When you see the Hail Mary go up, you kind of see your season flash before your eyes."
Fox grabbed the early lead when Mike Beck recovered a fumble in the end zone four minutes into the contest, followed by a two-point convert pass to Brad Lyons. In the second quarter, Lund scooted across for a four-yard TD to make it 8-6.
McLeod-Genest pushed over a one-yard major, then pulled down the two-point convert pass from Trevor Casey to make it 14-6.
For the Centaurs, the biggest obstacle the club faced was in losing Lund - to a sprained ankle suffered on the team's second possession - that parked him on the sidelines for all of the second half.
"We tried taping it and everything we could, but Nathan couldn't put any weight on it. I've ridden the Lund train all year, but it was really great to see the rest of the boys jump in and push them so hard," said Piche.
The Cents had a couple of other excellent chances, including a fourth-and-goal from the Fox six-yard line, but were held back by a flexible Ravens defence.
With the win, the Ravens now face the defending B.C. AAA champion Mount Doug Rams on Friday in Victoria - a challenge that co-coach Tom Kudaba feels his roster will need to step up to handle.
"[Mount Doug] had an exciting year, the defending champions playing on their home turf - obviously we're the underdogs," noted Kudaba. "If Trevor has a good solid week of practice and we don't play over our heads a bit we could do something against them."
In their lone encounter this year, Mount Doug pulled out a 44-40 win.