Oh, so close.
An interception at the 1-yard line thwarted Valley Christian's final drive of the day and last-ditch effort to pull off a big upset against defending-champion Phoenix Northwest Christian.
Instead, the Trojans fell, 19-13, on Saturday at the NAU Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff in both schools' Division V season opener.
In new coach Jeff Rutledge's debut, the Trojans (0-1) got a strong defensive effort, including Christian Hubbard returning a NW Christian interception 20 yards for a touchdown to put the Trojans on the board (and the lead) early in the second quarter.
The Trojans led 7-0 at halftime, but Travis Pollay's TD run and a 45-yard pass from Drew Inness to Matt Delos on a broken play gave the Crusaders (1-0) a 12-7 lead after three quarters.
Cory Kasperson and Brandon Haagsma hooked up for a 33-yard touchdown pass with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter to give Valley Christian the lead back at 13-12. But the 2-point conversion attempt failed, and Delos and Inness connected again from 25 yards out to give NW Christian its game-winning score.
Both teams struggled on special teams (outside TJ Widner's punting) and the Trojans had trouble offensively sustaining drives much of the day. But Dayton Nussle had a strong defensive effort up front for the Trojans.
NW Christian 19, Valley Christian 13
VC 0 7 0 6 -- 13
NWC 0 0 12 7 -- 19
VC - Christian Husband 20 INT return (Micah Izquierdo kick)
NWC - Travis Pollay 12 run (kick failed)
NWC - Matt Delos 45 pass from Drew Inness (run failed)
VC - Cory Kasperson 33 pass from Brandon Haagsma (run failed)
NWC - Delos 25 pass from Inness (Predovich kick)