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Braves stay undefeated with big win over Seaside


Banks stuns Seaside with a pick-six on the last play of the game

Ben Buchanan has seen a lot of wacky things in his 16-year tenure as the head football coach at Banks, but the way the Braves won Friday’s game against Seaside practically defied description.

With the score tied at 14-14 late in the fourth quarter, Banks drove to the Seaside 20-yard line and lined up for a potential game-winning field goal with seven seconds left. The snap was high and the kick was off the mark, however, giving the ball back to the Seagulls.

Instead of taking a knee and running out the final seconds, Seaside attempted a play-action pass with quarterback Kevin LaCoste rolling out to his right and then throwing back across the field to his running back on a wheel route.

Banks cornerback Andrew Santa Maria read the play perfectly, breaking off his downfield coverage and darting in front of the pass for an interception that he took to the house with no time left on the clock, lifting the Braves to an improbable 20-14 victory.

“The whole sideline and all our fans were going crazy,” Buchanan said. “We’ve had some big games and close wins before, but this one is in the top five. I’ve never had a game end that way.”

Santa Maria’s heroics kept Banks (6-0, 2-0) undefeated on the season and lifted the Braves to No. 1 in the most recent OSAA Class 4A power rankings, with previously unbeaten Seaside (5-1, 1-1) falling to 12th.

The game-winning pick-six wasn’t the only big play that Santa Maria turned in Friday. Earlier in the game, Seaside ran the same play and almost broke it for a touchdown, but the senior defensive back ran down the play from behind and made a saving tackle.

“They almost scored on that same play earlier in the game, but Andrew saved us by running the kid down,” Buchanan said. “When they ran it again at the end of the game, he sort of peeked into the backfield and saw the running back releasing, then he jumped the route. It was a great play.”

The late heroics were necessary, in part, because of two defensive breakdowns that allowed Seaside to overcome a two-touchdown deficit and tie the game late in the third quarter.

Banks opened the scoring on a 40-yard touchdown run by Mykah Rosa in the second quarter, and the Braves extended the margin to 14-0 early in the third when Garrett Markham connected with Nolan Hill on a 17-yard scoring pass.

Rosa finished with 125 yards rushing on 13 carries, while Markham was 12-of-21 passing for 146 yards and added 91 yards on the ground.

Seaside responded with a 24-yard touchdown pass on a broken coverage, and the Seagulls quickly added a 13-yard scoring pass after Banks fumbled on its ensuing possession.

Seaside had a chance to go ahead with less than two minutes remaining in the game. The Seagulls drove to the Banks 10-yard line before a fumble gave the ball back to the Braves.

“As amazing as the ending was, I still didn’t feel good about the game,” Buchanan said. “We constantly shot ourselves in the foot and just didn’t play a sharp game. We kind of let them back in the game and gave them life. I’m hoping that ... was the wake-up call we needed.”

Banks has three league games left, starting with a trip to Yamhill-Carlton (2-4, 1-1) this Friday at 7 p.m.