It took more than 57 minutes and a lot of heart to keep fighting the back-and-forth battle, but the Las Cruces Kings came back in the final minutes of the game to defeat the Sun City Reapers 31-24 and extend their Rio Grande Football League winning streak to 14.
“We all fought,” Kings cornerback and wide receiver Marcus Allen told DFUSA. “We won that game because we did it together, a total team effort.”
After trailing the whole game, the Kings finally tied it up 17-17 with 2:40 left in the third quarter, but the Reapers would score again with less than 10 minutes left in the game to make it 24-17.
“It was a classic battle, real RGFL action,” Kings general manager Rich Brown told DFUSA. “There’s always close games across the league, but never count out the Kings. We don’t care what the score is, whether we are up or down, we never give up. We uphold the intensity from the first whistle until the last whistle.”
The minutes ticked away in the fourth quarter as the teams fought and before long the Kings found themselves trailing by a touchdown with less than three minutes left in the game, with the ball on their own two-yard line.
That’s when quarterback Ryan Farley wiped the sweat off of his face, rose to the occasion and decided he wasn’t going to let the Kings winning streak or perfect season slip away.
“I kept no doubt in my mind that we were going to win,” Farley sad. “I want the ball in my hands at the end of the game because I know I will make it happen for my team.”
With 2:45 left in the fourth quarter, Farley broke on a 98-yard quarterback keeper to tie the game 24-24.
“My first initial thought process was just thinking how we’re going to get some breathing room because we needed to drive 98 yards to tie,” Farley said. “I called a zone sweep play for the running back to get to the outside, assuming they were going to penetrate the middle, which they did. Paul (Mendoza) snapped it a little high, so I was unable to hand the ball off, so the immediate reaction was to run it myself. It worked out better because Carlos (Olivas) reacted and started to lead block for me, which helped me break it to the house.”
Farley’s touchdown gave new life to the Kings and the defense would stand tall as Marcus Allen intercepted a Reapers pass with less than two minutes to go to give the ball back to Farley and the offense.
Allen would score again on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Farley with 10 seconds left in the game to give the Kings a 31-24 lead, their first of the game.
“Although the whole squad contributed, the key players were Ryan Farley and Marcus Allen hands down,” Kings linebacker Zach Daugherty told DFUSA. “Without those two doing what they did, we don’t win. “
Thanks to the heart displayed by two of the Kings’ captains, they arrive at the half-way point of the season with a 5-0 record and a week to rest up and get ready for the home stretch.
“We completed the first half of the season exactly the way we had hoped,” Daugherty said. “It’ll be nice to let some nicks and bruises heal up for us and kind of regroup and refocus for the second half of the season. Winning a hard fought, come-from-behind victory really brought us together and helped us to believe in each other even more. Moving forward we will carry that togetherness and get ready for the next opponent.”
In Las Cruces, New Mexico, football is more than just a game and that same mindset has the Kings on the winning end of quite a few games.
“We have several leaders and coaches that know how to refocus the team and play King football,” Brown said. “It’s not just a game here, it’s a way of life. It shows because we have at least 15 of us that coach kids outside of this. Football is year-round.”