On their home field leading 16-0 at the end of the first quarter of their season opener, the South Junior High ninth-grade football team felt relatively good about their chances of coming away with a victory.
The visitors had other ideas.
The Cougars saw the Blue Valley Tigers rally to score 24 unanswered points and eventually hang on to defeat the Cougars, 30-22.
The Cougars got thing going for themselves with some help from the defense.
South defenseman Jay Baker put two quick points on the board with a safety. After getting the ball back, South wasted little time.
The Cougars drove down the field and finished off the drive when quarterback Scott Brenn connected on an 18-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Gentry.
South followed that score up with a 5-yard touchdown run by Michael Georgeson. The Cougars seemed to be in total control.
But Blue Valley responded with a touchdown and two-point conversion to cut the South lead in half.
The Cougars ran the two- minute offense well with Brenn leading the way through the air. Hooking up with Gentry again, Brenn directed the Cougars down to the Tigers 14-yard line with just seconds to go in the half. But Brenn's fourth-down pass in the end zone fell incomplete, and the Cougars lead was just eight at the break.
The Cougars received the ball to start the third quarter , but misfortune struck as they lost the ball on a fumble.
South stopped the Tigers from taking advantage of the fumble and got the ball back.
The Cougars, however, gave the ball right back to the visitors on the ensuing possession.
This time Blue Valley made them pay.
One deep pass and 41 yards later, the Tigers tied the score. Blue Valley kept the momentum and scored another touchdown and successful conversion on its next possession to take a 24-16 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Seeing their lead vanish so quickly, the Cougars seemed to lose all momentum. But Brenn was confident his team would bounce back.
"I just figured we had to turn it on and get it done," Brenn said. "We gave it up a little bit, but we knew we'd finish strong."
On the next possession, Brenn led his team down the field. His teammates on the sidelines cheered them on as they chanted: "Finish! Finish!"
South did exactly that.
The Cougars finished the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run by Dustin Walthall to make the score 24-22. On the two-point conversion attempt, Brenn ran left but came up just short of the goal line.
Trailing by two with 6:03 to play, the Cougars surprised the Tigers return team with an onside kick.
Dom Reiske recovered the ball for the Cougars, recapturing the momentum.
One the next drive, the Tigers intercepted one of Brenn's passes, and the tide had turned once again.
The Tigers capitalized on their good fortune one more time and scored on a 7-yard run to make the score 30-22. The two-point conversion failed, giving the Cougars one last chance to tie the score.
South, however, was not about to give in. Just as on previous Cougar drives, the chant of "Finish! Finish!" came from the sidelines.
After a sack on first down seemed to take the steam out of the South drive,Brenn led the Cougars down the field deep into Tiger territory.
With less than a minute to go, Brenn and the Cougars faced a critical fourth down -and-nine.
With the game on the line, Brenn dropped back to throw and found Walthall open.
But the Tigers stopped him just short of the first down, and Blue Valley celebrated as it came away with an impressive road win.
Though the Cougars came up short on the score board, they earned high marks from coach Ron Garvin, who will have his team ready to go for the Cougars next game Sept. 7 at Shawnee Mission West.
"We did a lot of good things out there today," he said. "Some things didn't go our way. But I am not discouraged. I am very, very hopeful. I like this group a lot."