MORRISVILLE — -- Green Hope quarterback Luke Massei executed the two-minute drill twice in the closing minutes of the first half Friday, allowing the Falcons to outlast Sanderson 20-16 for their first win of the season.
Unable to get much going in the running game, and not finding much success throwing down field, Massei resorted to short passes under the Sanderson secondary coverage, and the Falcons hit paydirt.
Elijah Murrane (11 catches, 139 yards, two TDs) took a dump-off pass from Massei and carved up the Sanderson defense for a 53-yard touchdown catch-and-run to close the Falcons' deficit to 16-13 with 1:35 remaining in the half.
The Falcons' defense held Sanderson and got the ball back for the offense with 27 seconds left on the clock. Massei picked up right where he left off. He completed all three passes on the drive, which John Nassif finished off with a 25-yard touchdown catch with 3.5 seconds on the clock (Nassif also recovered a fumble midway through the fourth quarter to halt a Sanderson drive).
Massei finished the night 18-of-34 passing for 225 yards and three touchdowns.
Sanderson jumped out to an early 10-0 lead. Grayson Gregory kicked a 37-yard field goal early in the first quarter, and quarterback Matt Koehler ran for a 14-yard score to put the Spartans in command with 6:27 remaining in the first.
Trailing 10-0, Green Hope's offense finally got on the same page and marched 80 yards on 10 plays for their first score. Massei hit Murrane (11 catches, 139 yards) over the middle for a 25-yard TD pass.
But Sanderson came right back. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Koehler connected with receiver Zairee Parker for a 71-yard touchdown pass for a 16-7 lead with 2:59 left in the first quarter. Parker also had two interceptions on defense for the Spartans.
Sanderson's offense went silent after that. They closed the first half with just 52 yards of offense on their next six possessions. In the second half, the Falcons held them to just three first downs, and they forced two Sanderson turnovers.
Sanderson's defense stood firm in the second half, too. Green Hope didn't sniff the red zone, let alone the end zone, until the Spartans' turned the ball over on downs less than two minutes to play.