LANCASTER — Paraclete’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoff opener against Alemany figured to come down to who had the ball last.
Turns out, it came down to who had the ball last in the first half.
Alemany quarterback Miller Moss rolled out to his left as the clock expired and fired a prayer into triple coverage in the end zone that Warriors receiver D.J. Justice outfought three Paraclete defenders to come down with, answering the prayer for a touchdown.
There must have been some divine intervention, because Moss was a full three yards past the line of scrimmage when he let the pass fly — and none of the officials, including the referee who was standing virtually alongside the Alemany quarterback, caught it.
The play stood as the unfortunate difference in a wildly entertaining 39-34 Alemany victory at Brent Carder Marauder Stadium.
Officially, the margin of victory was Jaylin Smith’s interception of Spirits quarterback C.J. Montes and 31-yard return for a touchdown with 10:26 to play.
Two plays earlier Smith had caught a 12-yard bullet from Moss on a square out in the corner of the end zone to pull Alemany (8-2) within 34-32.
A 59-yard Paraclete punt that rolled dead at the AHS 8-yard line put the visitors from Mission Hills in a hole with :59 left in the third quarter.
Moss hit Justice with a 54-yard pattern bomb on second down to get Alemany going.
Richard Semeatu gave Paraclete one last chance when he ripped loose a dumbbell and recovered the ball at the Spirits’ 33 with 5:55 left.
A holding penalty put PHS first-and-28 at their own 27 before Montes scrambled 12 yards and then hit Jayloe Wilson with a clutch 16-yard connection at the sideline on third-and-15.
But Montes was sacked at his own 43 on fourth down to end the threat, and the Paraclete season at 6-5.
Amir Bankhead ran for 106 yards and three touchdowns for Paraclete.