By Brian Bassett

DHI Media Correspondent

HARROD — The Crestview Knight football team traveled to Goodwin Field at Allen East High School Friday evening spoiled Homecoming for the Mustangs - though not as early as some might have expected.

It took a Crestview two-point conversion with 30.8 seconds left in the game to give the Knights a 37-36 nail-biting victory.

“I’m proud that we won, but I’m not proud of the way we won,” said Crestview coach Jared Owens. “You’ve got to tip your cap to a tough Allen East team that hasn’t experienced a lot of success yet this year.”

The Knights trailed for a majority of the game, with the gap growing as high as 28-15 at the 9:09 mark of the third quarter.

“They just played us so physical and so hard,” continued Owens. “I knew they would because I know how well-coached they are.”

Crestview took the ball to open the game, and when they drove right down the field the game looked like it would be the rout most expected.

The drive went 54 yards in eight plays, culminating in a 4-yard touchdown run by junior running back Jordan Miller. A PAT by senior kicker Jake Tatum gave Crestview a 7-0 lead.

Allen East countered on the very next drive, going 57 yards in seven plays. A 7-yard touchdown run by junior Logan Schick and a PAT by sophomore kicker Bubba Butler tied the game at seven with 6:23 to play in the first.

Allen East threatened again later in the first, but an interception in the Crestview end zone by senior Alex Cunningham returned the ball to the Knights and momentarily salvaged the tie.

After a Knight turnover on downs, the Mustangs took the lead with a four-play 78 yard drive, culminating on a 2-yard touchdown run by Schick with 8:59 to play in the first half.

Crestview responded on the ensuing drive, with a 1-yard touchdown run from senior quarterback Preston Zaleski. Zaleski then ran in the 2-point-conversion attempt to give the Knights a 15-13 lead.

The game saw a pair of sudden changes building up to halftime. Another long Mustang drive was negated by a fumble, but Crestview returned the ball back on the next play with an interception.

Allen East made the visitors pay with 29 seconds left in the half thanks to a 6-yard touchdown run by Schick, followed by a Butler PAT. The score gave Allen East a 21-15 lead heading into the half.

At the break, the Mustangs out gained Crestview 243 yards to 200. The Mustang wing-t offense put up 148 yards on the ground in the first half, led by 94 from sophomore Caleb Smelcer.

The Knights cleaned up their run defense in the second, holding the Mustangs to 137 total yards and 122 on the ground.

“You really can’t be right, defensively. You’ve just got to beat somebody,” explained Owens of battling the wing-t. “We were able to be more physical (in the second half), play in the backfield and move the line-of-scrimmage back in our favor.”

Things got worse before they got better for Crestview, however. An 8-yard pass from senior quarterback Tanner Stippich to Smelcer and a Butler PAT gave the Mustangs a 28-15 lead.

Crestview then began it’s comeback. The visitors scored on the ensuing drive thanks to a 5-yard Miller run and a Tatum PAT, which made the score 28-22, Mustangs. The touchdown was only part of a big night for Miller.

The junior running back went for 178 yards on the ground on 16 carries. He also added a 24-yard reception late in the game which prolonged the game-winning drive.

“Jordan Miller is five-foot-nothing,” joked Owens. “But when it comes to heart, he’s got enough for three of four guys. He’s as irreplaceable as anybody we have on the team.”

The teams traded touchdowns again later in the game. Crestview with a touchdown from senior Jake Lippi and Allen East with a 54-yard run.

The Knights got a Tatum PAT after their touchdown, at the 7:17 mark of the fourth, but Allen East tacked on a 2-point-conversion-pass from Stippich to freshman Lucas Freeman to take a 36-29 lead. Crestview then put together it’s final drive.

The Knights took the ball with 4:18 to play on the clock and drove 80 yards in 10 plays. Zaleski eventually brought the Knights within one with a 2-yard touchdown run before a gutsy call by the Knights to go for two for a chance to win the game.

After a timeout, the Knights lined up for the conversion attempt with 30.8 seconds to play.

“It wasn’t really an easy call because we have a lot of confidence in our kicker. Tatum has done a great job for us all season,” explained Owens.

In the end it came down to the offensive momentum the Knights had built up.

“What it came down to for me, I think, is that we were able, on that final drive, to mix in three or four or five different plays. We were having success with all of them.

“I felt like in a situation where we needed three yards, we could get the ball in a play-maker’s hands and let him make a play.”

That’s exactly what the Knights did with their senior signal-caller and it paid off. Zaleski dove to break the plain, give the lead and eventually the win to the Knights.

The 37-36 win keeps the Knights shot at a perfect season alive, they move to 5-0 on the season and 2-0 in conference play.