Don Bauder 7:49 p.m., May 22
LINDA VISTA – Against San Diego on Friday afternoon, Kearny quarterback Shawn Boose didn’t have his best game – but he was just good enough. Boose drove Kearny 84 yards for the go-ahead score with 1:40 left, capping a 12-point fourth quarter comeback in a thrilling 28-25 victory over San Diego.
“We just keep running and we don’t quit,” Boose said. “Two years with coach Kenny Nears and he put that in our heads not to quit. We used to be a team that just bowed down to everybody – not anymore.”
San Diego took a 25-13 lead with 7:35 left in the game on a Deshaun Scott 25-yard touchdown pass to Eric Judge. With Kearny (6-2, 4-0 Central) struggling to move the ball to that point, a two-score deficit seemed to give the Cavers a decisive advantage.
“We did what we could,” Scott said.
Kearny took the ensuing drive deep into San Diego territory, but lost the ball on a Tareq Abulebbeh fumble at the 7-yard line. After a false start penalty moved San Diego closer to its own goal line, the Cavers gave the ball back to Kearny on a fumbled handoff. The Komets made it a one-score game with a Boose 2-yard touchdown run with 6:01 left.
“I was a little frustrated. I wish I could calm down and get used to the position more. It’s a hard transition,” said Scott, who converted from running back to quarterback after starter Khari Kimbrough’s season-ending leg injury on Oct. 7.
Kearny got the ball back with four minutes left, and Boose drove the Komets down the field with a mix of runs and passes. The Komets took a 26-25 lead with 1:40 remaining on a play called ‘Chargers Special’ – Boose rolled right and found receiver Charles Tucker in the end zone from 15 yards out for the score.
“It’s a post corner and an out,” Boose said. “My first option was to run it – it wasn’t supposed to be a designed pass. He obviously got open, so I threw him the ball.”
Boose converted the two-point conversion on the ground to put Kearny ahead 28-25. Shocked by the comeback, San Diego (4-2, 1-1) couldn’t get a first down on the following possession as the Komets held on for a thrilling victory.
“We came back second half and had to pick it up,” Boose said. “We just had to go.”
San Diego took control early on in the game by dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Often keeping three backs in backfield, the Cavers ran the ball successfully in the first half behind their big offensive line.
“We have strong running backs and nice fullbacks, but after a while they were going to stop it so we had to pass a little bit,” Scott said. “That’s what we tried doing.”
San Diego scored first with a Scott 2-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter, and with 4:37 to play in the second quarter the Cavers extended their lead to 12-0 on a Jacob Philpott 1-yard run. Kearny responded with a quick scoring drive, making it a one-possession game just a minute later with a Boose 14-yard touchdown pass to Tucker.
“The key was to catch the ball and run our routes – just execute,” Boose said.
Kearny didn’t have long to celebrate its score, as Judge took the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown to give the Cavers an 18-6 lead they would take into halftime. Boose completed only 3 of 10 passes in a first half where the Komets struggled to move the ball.
“They were blitzing a lot and I had a lot of rush on me,” Boose said. “I really didn’t have enough time to gather my feet and look at the defense.”
Trailing by 12 midway through the third quarter, Kearny got back into the game with its defense. Judge caught a pass and appeared to break free into the Kearny secondary when streaking Komets linebacker Calvin Rogers delivered a massive hit on Judge from behind that freed the ball, which Boose picked up and returned for a 55-yard score that made it 18-13.
“That was big. I knew he was going to hit him – I saw him and he winked at me,” Boose said. “He hit him and I had to pick it up and take it to the house and change the game.”
San Diego led by five at the start of the fourth quarter and took the 25-13 lead on a drive set up by a Boose interception. Despite his struggles, Boose finished with three offensive touchdowns and didn’t let discouragement prevent a Kearny comeback.
“I never got down on myself,” Boose said. “I tried to keep motivating myself – even if we’re losing by 50 or 100 points we’re still going to push it.”
With the comeback victory, Kearny now has control of the Central League. Only Crawford and University City stand in the way of a Komets’ league title.
“Our coach told our team we had to play the hardest,” Boose said. “This is the hardest game that’s left on our schedule. If we win these next two games we have a bye in the playoffs.”
In its first game without Khari Kimbrough under center and its first of two games without head coach Keir Kimbrough, San Diego played well but couldn’t finish. A frustrated Scott said he expects the Cavers’ passing game to improve in the coming weeks.
“I have to get used to staying in the pocket more and get used and find a way to look over the line, because I can only see on the out routes and the deep passes,” Scott said. “I feel like I have to rush out of the pocket all the time.”
Pictured: San Diego quarterback Deshaun Scott looks for an open receiver with Kearny linebacker Calvin Rogers closing in on the pass rush