When the Grain Valley players jogged off the field for halftime with a slim lead, Ethan Macoubrie talked with coach David Allie.
The senior, who is coming back from a fractured foot and playing in only his second game this year, told his coach he thought the fade would be there, if needed. Up to that point, the slant patterns were working for the Eagles against Class 4 No. 8-ranked Harrisonville, the defending state champion.
Allie told the 6-foot-4 senior receiver they would run the play once, just didn't say when.
The coach held true to his word and Macoubrie delivered in a big way – hauling in a 12-yard touchdown pass as time expired on fourth down to vault the Eagles to a 15-13 upset.
“He said, ‘Coach, I can get them on the fade,'” Allie said. “I said 'I'll throw it to you once, but if we missed, we are going back to slants and don't ask me for fades anymore.'
“I guess I’ve got to throw the fades now,” he added with a chuckle.
Grain Valley (4-2, 2-0 MRVC West) led 9-7 going into the second half, but the second half turned into a game of field possession. The Eagles drove down to the Wildcats' 20-yard line in the third quarter, but turned the ball over on downs.
Harrisonville drove to the Grain Valley 33 early in the fourth, but came up an inch short on fourth down with 7:37 left.
The Eagles then punted and pinned the Wildcats at the 2-yard line, but Harrisonville marched 98 yards on an 18-play drive that ate 6 minutes, 15 seconds off the board. Harrisonville converted six third downs and went ahead with 1:21 left when Ryan Boyd hit Jasper Davis on a 13-yard score.
Up 13-9, the Wildcats (3-3, 1-1) went for two and didn't get it.
Grain Valley took over with 1:13 left and were 68 yards away from the end zone.
Macoubrie caught a 4-yard pass on the first play, but a personal foul on Harrisonville moved Grain Valley to midfield. Quarterback Tate Collum busted a 20-yard run with 35.5 seconds left, down to the 18-yard line. Collum finished with 92 yards rushing and passed for 152 in the Eagles' second straight win.
Caleb Krell ran for 12 yards to the 6-yard line with 29.6 seconds left. On the next play, Collum tried to hit Macoubrie on a slant in the back of the end zone, but the ball went off of his hands and fell to the ground.
Jacobee Strickland then sacked Collum with 11.4 seconds left, and Allie called his final timeout facing a third-and-goal from the 15.
Allie called two plays during the timeout. Collum checked down and found Krell for a 3-yard gain as he scrambled to the sideline.
With 4.8 seconds left, Macoubrie got his wish – a fade.
Collum lofted the pass into the back corner of the end zone and Macoubrie out-leaped Nick Laughlin and Jaydn Wilson for the game-winner. He finished with eight catches for 50 yards.
“When there is something on the line, I'm stepping up and being a leader,” Macoubrie said moments after being mobbed by his fellow classmates on the field. “I feel that is what I needed to do. It means a lot after losing to them in the district finals and seeing them going on to win state.
“I'm glad my coach and my team have trust in me. It means a lot.”
That play provided a bit of revenge for Grain Valley.
The two MRVC West rivals met twice last year. The Eagles won the first, 19-7, at Harrisonville. Six weeks later they met again and the Wildcats won 33-10 – part of a nine-game winning streak that followed the 19-7 loss and ended in a Class 4 state championship.
Harrisonville struck first when Wyatt Reynolds ran in for a 1-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
The Eagles scored twice in the second quarter to take a lead. An 11-play drive followed Harrisonville’s score. Collum hit Michael Marquez for a 15-yard gain and Nick Brown for a 12-yard completion to set up his own 1-yard keeper at the 10-minute mark.
Harrisonville’s Sean Caruthers blocked the PAT and that kept the Wildcats ahead, 7-6.
The Eagles got the ball back with 2:20 left in the first half. Marquez hauled in a 34-yard catch to to set up a Nate Chaiprathum 40-yard field goal with 9.7 seconds left to make it 9-7 at halftime.