AGANA HEIGHTS, Guam – Devon Jacobs made two clutch plays that resulted in an historic football victory for Guam High.
The senior sprawled to catch a touchdown pass with six minutes left, then killed a potential game-winning drive with an end-zone pickoff with 11 seconds left as the Panthers dethroned George Washington 7-6 in Saturday’s Interscholastic Football League title game.
“It’s really sweet because we earned it. I’m overwhelmed,” said Billy Henry, in his second season as coach of the Panthers (8-0), who won their first title and capped the school’s first unbeaten IFL campaign.
Henry credited school administration, parents, assistant coaches “for their undying dedication” and players, who “bought into the program” with their participation in offseason workouts. “I feel grateful,” Henry said.
Saturday’s victory was a far cry from the first time the Panthers and Geckos (7-2) met, a 32-0 Guam High shutout Sept. 3.
“George Washington was a totally different team,” Henry said. “I was surprised. Their defense rose to the occasion as much as ours did. They really came to play.”
The teams remained scoreless until the third quarter, when Derek Santos hit Dylan Naputi from 17 yards out. But Guam High’s Marquis Dollard intercepted GW’s two-point conversion pass attempt, leaving the score 6-0.
Halfway through the third quarter, Paul Floyd hit a diving Jacobs in the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown pass. D.J. Cruz, who led the Panthers with 122 yards on 15 carries, split the uprights with the point-after kick, capping the scoring.
The Geckos had a chance to take the lead after that, but got stopped at Guam High’s 10-yard line with four minutes left. Guam High failed to make a first down, then punted to the Geckos’ 15-yard line.
GW then marched deep inside Panthers territory, forcing Henry to burn two timeouts to get his defense organized. He went with a five-linebacker set to try to cut the possibility of a touchdown pass.
Finally, on third and goal, a Santos pass was tipped into the air and Jacobs picked it off, running it to the 15. From there, Floyd took a knee and the title was Guam High’s.
The highest previous finishes for the Panthers in their 13-season IFL history was second, twice, in the regular season and third three times in the playoffs. This was the first time Guam High reached the IFL championship game.
Next on the Panthers’ itinerary is a visit to Kadena, where Guam High will face the defending Far East Division I champion Panthers in a non-playoff contest.
DODDS-Pacific officials added the end-of-season game to give Guam High an extra game after the school last month opted out of this season’s first Division I play-in games due to conflicts with the IFL playoff schedule; and to give Kadena an extra game to avoid a four-week layoff.