In the short history of the Pemberton Grizzlies, the winning play from the team’s home field debut can already be known as “The Catch.”
Dustin Lander caught a 35-yard touchdown pass on the goal line, hauling in a ball that was deflected up in the air, late in the fourth quarter Saturday (Aug. 31) to give the Grizzlies at 20-14 win over the visiting Howe Sound Secondary Sounders at the Pemberton Meadows Field.
“Dustin wasn’t the intended receiver,” quarterback Eldon Finck said with a grin shortly after the final whistle.
When the pass, which was headed for Wesley Finck in double coverage, popped up in the air, Lander was in the right spot to reel it in and walk into the end zone, giving the Grizzlies their only lead of the day. Zach Moxley then snagged an interception on the Sounders’ ensuing drive to seal the victory.
“It was sheer luck,” Lander said of the winning score. “I just grabbed it, tucked it and ran it right in.”
Lander had all three Grizzly touchdowns in Saturday’s win, taking an interception to the end zone on the first play of the second quarter to make it a 6-6 game. The Sounders responded with a 65-yard run for a touchdown on the next play from scrimmage and took a 14-6 lead into the half.
But a Pemberton offence that was stifled through the first two quarters came to life in the second half, with Lander scoring on a 55-yard pass-and-run play early in the third quarter to pull the Grizzlies within two points.
Late in the fourth quarter, Pemberton converted on a crucial 4th-and-9 near midfield when Eldon Finck found Kex Nelson for a first down, keeping the drive alive for Lander’s late-game heroics. Wesley Finck caught a two-point convert after the go-ahead touchdown to round out the scoring.
The Grizzlies, who played an entire season of road games during their debut 2012 season, had their first chance to play at home Saturday and Lander said it was a special experience.
“It was our inaugural home game and it was just the best feeling ever,” he said.
Eldon Finck said the team would dedicate the victory to former Grizzlies coach Ron Fogarty, who passed away in June.
“He loved the game and he’d be so proud of us right now,” said the Pemberton quarterback. “He was with us in our hearts.”
See more in Thursday’s (Sept. 5) edition of The Question.