Did he have it, or didn’t he?
That was the burning question being asked Friday afternoon after Belen Jesuit 6-6 wide receiver Frank Battle went up for a long pass that he seemingly had come down with at the 3-yard line with 42 seconds left and his team down by three points.
But when Ferguson defensive back Victor Arostegui emerged from the pile with the ball, the Falcons were awarded an interception and ran out the clock to secure a huge, program-defining 16-13 upset of the Wolverines in a District 15-8A showdown contest at Belen.
Belen could have wrapped up the district title and a home date with Southridge in the first round of the playoffs with the win. But, after Southwest easily dispatched Varela 41-0 a few hours later at Tropical Park, that left Belen, Ferguson and Southwest all tied at the top with 4-1 district marks.
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Things will get settled on Monday night at 7 p.m. at Tropical Park as a three-way tiebreaker for first and second place will take place with Belen taking on Varela at 7 p.m. in a one-quarter contest and the winner to play Southwest immediately after.
Belen had a chance to tie the score with 4:27 left, but Jake Ramirez’s 39-yard field-goal attempt was wide right.
After forcing a quick three-and-out, Belen got the ball back on its own 40 with 2:19 left. Six plays later, on second-and-11 from the Ferguson 37, quarterback Daniel Hernandez fired a deep pass down the middle that Battle went up for as he battled with two Ferguson defenders including Arostegui, who emerged with the ball. After initially calling it an interception, officials huddled up in the end zone for more than a minute to discuss the play before ultimately calling it a pick, much to the chagrin of outraged Belen head coach Rich Stuart who was on the field and flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“He’s a lot taller than me so I really had to try and jump up there with him, but when I went up, I saw the ball and just tried to grab it from him on the way down,” said Arostegui. “What a great win for our team and our program.”
Trailing by 10, Belen (6-3, 4-1) got back in the game when the Wolverines put together a 70-yard drive late in the third quarter thanks mainly to a 34-yard Hernandez-to-Battle hookup, with Joseph Garcia scoring from 3 yards out to cut the Falcons’ lead to three.
“I just can’t give our kids enough praise for what they accomplished out there today,” said Ferguson coach Gene Chew, who is the only coach the program has ever known.
BELEN JESUIT 13
BEL- P. Garcia 13 run (kick failed)
FER- Valdez 3 run (Arango kick)
FER- FG Arango 33
FER- Alavarez 22 pass from Valdez (kick failed)
BEL- J. Garcia 3 run (Ramirez kick)
Rushing (att-yds) -- FER: Valls 2-(-1), Felton 3-6, Valdez 15-7, McCrea 6-15, Moscoso 8-25. BEL: Silvestry 3-1, Pulles 1-1, Llanes 3-5, Robaina 3-10, Garcia 6-17, Garcia 6-47, Hernandez 8-48.
Passing (comp-att-int, yds)-- FER: Valdez 7-12-0, 108. BEL: Hernandez 6-14-1, 101.
Receiving (rec-yds-TD) -- FER: Felton 1-10, Valls 2-15, Velasco 1-15, Alvarez 2-29, Larrazabal 1-39. BEL: Robaina 1-11, Silvestry 1-18, Cicera 1-24, Battle 3-48.