Elgin squeaks by Larkin, keeps playoff hopes alive
Elgin won the Town Jug trophy by a few links of chain at Memorial Field Friday.
With 84 seconds to play and his team trailing by 6 points, Larkin sophomore quarterback Dontrell Maxie stretched out as far as he could while diving for the marker on a fourth-and-5 scramble from the Elgin 12-yard line.
The chains showed his all-out effort came up just a few links shy and the Maroons celebrated a 27-21 victory over the Royals.
It was the first win for Elgin (4-4, 4-4 Upstate Eight) over Larkin (1-7, 1-7) since 2016.
It was also the fourth straight victory for the Maroons since an 0-4 start. They will host East Aurora (4-4, 4-4) next week with a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
"We were playing for more than just the Jug," senior receiver Xavier Bonds said. "We're trying to go to the playoffs so we just made it happen."
Bonds made it happen when Elgin needed a play. The game was tied 21-21 when the Maroons got the ball back on a punt with 5:41 remaining.
Junior quarterback Jeffery Lomax threw a bubble screen pass to Bonds on the first play and he did the rest. He slipped one tackle and outran the Larkin secondary for an 82-yard touchdown. Elgin led 27-21 after the extra point was backed up by a penalty and subsequently blocked.
"We just needed a play," said Bonds, whose only other catch of the game was a 41-yard touchdown. "Coach (Anthony Mason) called it. It wasn't supposed to be a big play but, you know, players make it happen. I just had to make it happen for my team so we could bring home the Jug."
Elgin jumped to a 7-0 first quarter lead on a reverse flea flicker pass from Lomax to Alex West on Elgin's first play from scrimmage.
"It's something coach came up with in that big brain of his and we just had to execute," said Lomax, who completed 13 of 18 attempts for 277 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Elgin led 14-0 when the Royals roared back with a pair of touchdowns. Maxie scored on a 4-yard sneak and later found sophomore Jamarion Stubbs behind the defense for a 53-yard scoring strike.
Bonds gave the Maroons a third-quarter lead with a 12-yard scoring run on 4th-and-3 to cap a 51-yard, 10-play drive.
Larkin answered later in the quarter when Maxie finished a 70-yard, 11-play march with a 12-yard run of his own. Neither team scored again until Bonds turned a short pass into the game-winner.
Maxie completed 17 of 33 attempts for 227 yards, Marc Narvaez rushed for 95 yards on 19 carries and the Royals won the turnover battle 1-0. It still wasn't enough.
"It was really a hard fought game by both teams," Larkin coach Matt Gehrig said. "I thought it was a nice job of strategy and game planning by both coaching staffs, which is what a rivalry game is supposed to be. I just really feel for our players who left it all on the field tonight because we have a bunch of guys who absolutely played their hearts out."
The Royals moved from their own 18-yard line to the Elgin 12 in 13 plays on the final drive but came up a few links of chain short.
"I thought we showed great resilience against tough opposition," Larkin tackle Adam Maloy said. "I thought we played great. We left it all out on the field and we were just that close to bringing it home."