Football: Easthope, Pioneer flip the script on Anchor Bay for thrilling last-second win

A Hollywood producer gives you a call and asks for you to write a sports movie. You give it some thought and then head on over for a meeting with the top executives of We Are Sports Films.

No one in the room realizes you are bringing them a true story. You settle in and make your pitch.

“There is a young quarterback who throws a pass he shouldn’t have thrown and the ball gets intercepted with the final seconds ticking down. The other team returns it to set up the winning field goal on the last play of the game in the season opener for both teams. The very next year when these teams play again, the same young quarterback – only one year wiser – rolls out on the last play of the game and instead of passing, takes off for the end zone. He makes it in as the clock hits zero and his team wins the game. It’s a story of grit, determination, pay back and redemption – one year later almost to the day.”

The executives all get up and head for the door. You overhear one of them say: “No one would ever believe such a story. I’m sure the next thing he was going to tell us was that this happened in high school.”

Well, that’s exactly what happened to the Pioneer football team. A year ago, a young quarterback (Conor Easthope) threw a pass he shouldn’t have thrown and Anchor Bay returned it for a touchdown to beat the Pioneers in the final seconds in the season opener for both schools.

On Thursday, at Anchor Bay this time, Easthope flipped the script. The junior quarterback took the snap with his team trailing by a point and only 11 seconds left in the game. Instead of passing, Easthope took off and headed for the end zone – if he didn’t get there the Pioneers wouldn’t have had any time to call time out and attempt a field goal. Easthope got there just in time to help deliver a 13-7 win on the game’s final play.

Anchor Bay is a long way from Hollywood but the Pioneers proved that not only dreams come true but even the wildest dreams come true.

“The kids really deserved this,” said Pioneer Coach William Bellers. “They worked so hard to get to this game and really played well. Our defense was amazing all game. They really kept us in it. They got a stop whenever we really needed one.”

Pioneer QB Conor Easthope

Midway through the first quarter, the Pioneers took a 6-0 lead on a 2-yard TD run by Luke Rogers. The game stayed 6-0 into the fourth quarter.

Anchor Bay blocked a punt to help set up its first score of the game to take a 7-6 lead with just 41 seconds left.

“We got the ball on our 20-yard line with two time outs still left,” Bellers said.

Two big pass plays (one to Ali Fisher and the other to Geffen Peterson-Sand) and an obvious pass interference call on the home team gave the Pioneers the ball at the 11-yard line with 13 seconds left.

“I decided to run one more play,” Bellers said. “If it’s there go for it. If not, throw it away and we send in the field goal team.”

Easthope did neither of those things. On third down at the 10-yard line with 9 seconds left on the clock, Easthope saw an opening and took off for the end zone. He really wanted this game. And he put the outcome on his shoulders and on his feet and ran the Pioneers right into the win column.

Talk about a Hollywood story.   

Statistically speaking

Passing: Conor Easthope, 8/16 140 yards, INT, one rushing TD, 47 rush yards. 
Receiving: Geffen Peterson-Sand, 3 receptions for 88 yards. 
Defense: Jordan Garrett, 6 tackles, 3 for loss, 1 sack.
Special teams – 1 blocked punt, 1 blocked field goal