Backup quarterback Sean Paul Brophy began the second half holding a clipboard on the sideline. He ended it as the biggest man on the Chaparral campus after leading the Firebirds to one of the wildest comebacks in school history, 30-27, over Notre Dame.
After surrendering a two-yard touchdown run to Notre Dame’s Luke Taffuri with only 5:20 remaining, Chaparral (3-3) looked down for the count on a night that saw the home team squander multiple opportunities with three costly fumbles.
But Brophy didn’t play the part of the timid sophomore. On the ensuing possession, the sophomore led the Firebirds on a brisk four-play, 77-yard drive capped off by 16-yard touchdown strike to senior wide receiver Jake Roh.
Following a quick three-and-out by the Saints’ offense, Brophy and Co. had a shot to tie the game down 27-19.
After a series of incompletions, first-year coach Dave Huffine decided to go for it on fourth down, despite his team needing 10 yards from their own 31-yard line. That trust paid off as Brophy found junior wide receiver Tyler Whiley on a 17-yard screen pass.
Five plays later, junior halfback Emerson Carrethers finished off the drive with a five-yard scamper up the middle, but Chaparral still needed a two-point conversion to tie the game with just over a minute remaining. Faced with the biggest moment of his young career, Brophy calmly found Roh in the left corner of the end zone to knot the game up at 27.
If Brophy was Chaparral’s Batman on Friday night, Roh certainly played the part of Robin.
On Notre Dame’s first play from scrimmage following the converted two-point pass, Roh jumped in front of a pass thrown by senior quarterback Nick Ducksworth at the Saints’ 39-yard line.
The Redbirds proceeded to go 28 yards on two passes by Brophy and two runs by Carrethers, respectively, and senior kicker Sam McReynolds finished off Chaparral’s miraculous comeback with a 27-yard field goal as time expired.
“A lot of teams would have rolled over, but not these kids,” Chaparral coach Dave Huffine said. “Because of what has happened to them in the past, they just always believed. They do everything we ask of them and this is what it’s all about. This is absolutely unbelievable.”
Brophy began the season as the starting quarterback before being replaced by Brad Schencker. He took over for Schencker midway through the third quarter Friday and finished 10-of-13 with 151 passing yards in less than one half of work.
While he was relegated to the sidelines in the first half, the Firebirds’ backup quarterback says he approached this week’s game as if he was the starter.
“You have to stay mentally prepared and remain completely involved in the game,” said Brophy. “I could never in a million years have imagined a comeback like this when I entered in the third quarter. But we just started getting more and more confident, we started playing harder and because of it, we earned a victory.”
For the second straight week, the Saints (2-4) fell in the final seconds after letting another late lead slip through their fingertips.
There were no moral victories to be found and coach Gary Gregory says the onus lies on him to buck the team’s recent trend.
“We do everything as a team, but as the leader of this team I take the fault for this,” said Gregory. “This isn’t on the kids, this on me. We have a bunch of great kids, who try so hard, it’s a shame to lose these last two games the way that we have.
“It wasn’t one play that cost us, it was numerous things. And for whatever reason it hasn’t been meant to be for us the last two weeks.”
In defeat, senior tight end and ASU commit Grant Martinez caught four passes for 55 yards and a touchdown.
ND- 18-yard pass to Grant Martinez from Duckworth (Naquin kick)
ND- 3-yard run by Luke Taffuri (Naquin kick blocked)
CH- 31-yard field goal by Sam McReynolds
CH- 5-yard pass to Tyler Whiley from Schencker (McReynolds kick)
ND- 8-yard pass to Bailey Jones from Duckworth (Naquin kick)
CH- Snap for punt thrown out of the end zone for a safety
ND- 2-yard run by Taffuri (Naquin kick)
CH- 16-yard pass to Jake Roh from Brophy (McReynolds kick)
CH- 5-yard run by Emerson Carrethers (Two-point conversion good on pass to Roh)
CH- 27-yard FG by Sam McReynolds
First Downs: C 17; ND 8
Rushing: C 36-164; ND 25-113
Passing: C 27-36-292-0; ND 11-17-138-1
Penalty Yards: C 34; ND 55
Fumbles: 3; ND 0.