The Kansas City Phantoms found out how important the last minute of a Champions Indoor Football League game can be Friday.
Quarterback Donovan Porterie hit Dee Washington with a 12-yard touchdown pass to give the hometown team a 48-45 lead with just 55 seconds left.
“At that point, we were feeling good, feeling confident,” said Porterie, who had six touchdown passes and a 3-yard touchdown run, “but a lot can happen in the final minute – like we found out tonight.”
Quad City quarterback E.J. Hilliard, playing on one leg after a late sack by Shaq Prather, lofted a 19-yard touchdown pass to Quinton Pedroza, who somehow managed to leap and catch the ball as he fell over the padded wall in the end zone, landing on his head among the stunned Phantom players in their area near the end zone to give the Steamwheelers a 52-48 victory Friday night at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
He made the catch with just four seconds left.
“Sir, I got concussed and I am seeing two of you now,” Pedroza chuckled, “but I feel great. E.J. put that ball the only place it wasn’t going to be intercepted. It was the perfect pass. In the huddle he said, “Quinton, go get this pass,’ and I was able to.
“He had confidence in me and I had confidence he was going to make the perfect pass, which he did.”
There was some controversy as to whether it was a legal catch, since he caught it in the air and tumbled over the protective barrier onto the concrete.
“I knew the catch was good,” Pedroza said. “When I got my hands on that pass, I wasn’t going to let go.”
Seconds after the catch, Phantoms coach Meadow Lemon threw a challenge flag. After a lengthy discussion and review of the tape, the officials ruled it was a touchdown.
“The receiver went up and caught the ball and then came down and went over the wall – which is a legal catch, because he held onto the ball,” referee Brian Moore said as he walked off the field.
After a lengthy postgame meeting with his 1-4 team, Lemon and the Phantoms returned to the field for a postgame autograph session.
“This is a tough one,” Lemon said. “We needed to do a better job the last minute. Overall, I was happy with the way we played. Our offense is really coming around and we did some good things defensively, but we can’t give up that late touchdown. But I have to say, their guy made a great catch on a great pass.”
The Steamwheelers kicked off to the Phantoms with four seconds left and the ball bounced around near the Kansas City end zone and was picked up by Quad City’s Joe Powell to secure the win.
The last-second loss spoiled a great offensive night for Porterie, wide receivers Washington and Jared Elmore and former Truman High School star O.J. Simpson, who had a 41-yard kickoff return to set up his team’s last touchdown.
“This would have been a great one to win,” said Simpson, who had 96 return yards. “But, there are nights you have to credit your opponent and this was one of those nights.”
Porterie completed 20 of 27 passes for 231 yards. Elmore finished the night with four touchdown receptions and Washington added two.
“We took it on the chin tonight, and that’s tough because we wanted to win for our fans,” Elmore said. “Quad City is a class act and they came here to win, and they managed to do it. I was feeling good about our chances with less than a minute left, but that’s when you have to pay attention to detail and do the little, and big things, to win.
“We’re a good team, and we’re doing to come back from this.”