Jowana Adonis paraded the Glendale flag proudly around Matt D. Hanhilla Stadium.
Three linemen ran to the end zone and did imaginary snow angels.
No matter how they chose to celebrate, the members of the Glendale Community College football team will go down as the 2005 NJCAA champions.
An attempted fade pass on a two-point conversion with 1:01 remaining in the game was overthrown by Grand Rapids (Mich.) quarterback Billy Firn, giving top-ranked Glendale a wild 50-48 win over the No. 2 Raiders in front of a packed house at the Valley of the Sun Bowl at Glendale Saturday afternoon.
The Gauchos (11-0) took a 22-point lead into the fourth quarter before holding on.
"I told everybody that asked me ‘This game will go all the way until the end, no matter who wins. It will be a nail-biter all the way,’ " Glendale coach Joe Kersting said. "It was, and I wish I didn’t predict it so well."
The contest featured five touchdowns scored by the teams’ defenses and special teams.
"This feels good, so good," said wide receiver Eric McCain, who garnered MVP honors with six catches for 177 yards and a score.
Glendale fell behind 21-10 early before scoring 32 straight to take command. A 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Markus Turner put the Gauchos ahead 50-28 late in the third quarter and seemingly put the game out of reach.
But the Raiders refused to quit. They scored twice to make it 50-42 with 7:45 remaining.
Grand Rapids (9-2) forced a punt, and Firn found Kyle Curtis in the end zone from 5 yards out to pull within two. But Firn overthrew Anthony Townsend on the conversion attempt to end the comeback try.
Taryll Galloway picked up a first down on a third-and-three with less than a minute to go to let Glendale run out the clock and secure its third national title. The Gauchos also won in 1998 and 2000.
"I thought we had it for sure there in the third," Kersting said.
"I’m just glad the clock ran out. I’m glad we don’t play 61 minutes. If we played 61 minutes, we would have been in trouble."