Whitney players Kolby Tanner (2), Shawntay Owens (79), (back row from left) Dawson Hightower, Juan Saucedo, Devin Wilson and Jordan Newton.

WHITNEY — Senior wide receiver Kolby Tanner caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Whitney quarterback Garrett Peacock with 48 seconds left, giving the Wildcats a stunning 26-21 upset over defending 3A state champion and No. 1-ranked Grandview Friday, handing the Zebras their first loss in 19 games.

The dramatic score capped a wild fourth quarter which saw the home team rally from a 21-7 deficit. Whitney (8-1, 5-0) now stands only a win next week against Groesbeck to gain the undisputed District 9-3A Division I title and the league’s top seed in the upcoming 3A playoffs.

“We’ve talked to our kids for two years for being ready for the moment and making the big plays,” Whitney coach Mark Byrd said. “We stayed after it and never quit. You have to give all the credit to the defense and the kids who never gave up.”

Tanner appeared to have tied the game when he caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Devin Wilson, cutting the deficit to 21-20 with 6:55 left in the game. But Wilson’s extra point was wide right and Grandview (8-1, 4-1) still led.

After an exchange of turnovers, Grandview fumbled the ball deep in its own territory, recovered by Wilson. After Peacock threw an interception, Whitney got one final chance after a short punt with 2:21 left.

Wilson and Peacock rotated at quarterback as the Wildcats moved the ball into scoring range. With less than a minute left, it was the sophomore Peacock behind center when he found senior Tanner for the score with the packed home stands roaring their approval.

“Playmakers just got to make plays and that’s what we did tonight,” Byrd said. “We have one more to go.”

Grandview didn’t waste much time getting on the scoreboard in the third quarter. They took the second half kickoff and steadily moved the ball down the field. Two big Austin Boyd catches led to a six-yard run by Dane Jentsch and a 21-7 lead after the third extra point from Nathan Baker.

Once again it was instant offense from quarterback Wilson, who was playing quarterback since sophomore Peacock was briefly knocked from the game with an injury. He took the snap at the Grandview’s 6-yard-line, retreated four yards and then sprinted 10 yards for a score to cut the margin 21-14.

Grandview came into game with a powerhouse offense befitting the Class 3A defending champion, but it was the defense for the defending champs that stole the show early, holding Whitney to very little offense for the first quarter and a half.

But you can only hold the Wildcats explosive offense down for so long. Late in the second quarter, Wildcats senior starting quarterback Wilson took a punt over his left shoulder inside his own 40-yard line, spun once, saw a seam down the right sideline, and sprinted untouched 61 yards for a touchdown to make the score 14-7 just before halftime.

Grandview came into the game as a heavy favorite, winners of 19 straight games, and on their first drive it appeared that would continue in easy fashion.

Quarterback Jentsch tossed an 80-yard pass to Cooper Dean who was pushed out of bounds at the 2-yard line. Jentsch scored from a yard out two plays later for an early 7-0 lead after a Nathan Baker kick early in the first quarter.

Midway through the second quarter, Grandview scored on a more traditional route, marching 65 yards on 14 plays for their second score. The score came on a 24-yard pass to Austin Boyd from Jentsch. Baker kicked the extra point for a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

The Wildcats defense came up big to stop another Grandview drive when Dex Garner recovered a Jentsch fumble at the Whitney 42 late in the first quarter. Grandview had another touchdown pass called back after a holding call on their last drive before halftime.

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