Something about a West Valley-Lathrop athletic competition always brings out the best in their respective players. Tuesday evening’s flag football match was no exception as the Wolfpack and the Malemutes battled it out in what might have been the best game of the season so far.
The undefeated Wolfpack found themselves trailing their bitter rivals in the Malemutes by one touchdown with seven minutes left in the game. The fact that the Wolfpack managed to tie the game right then was exciting enough. The fact that quarterback Aysha Peter connected with Aaliyah Hanson for a 45-yard touchdown pass as the clock expired to keep West Valley undefeated with a 12-6 walk-off win provided every bit of the excitement of the most recent Monday Night Football game.
“It feels really good,” said Hanson. “I was really excited and I didn’t know if I was going to get the pass and run all the way down to the end zone, but it felt really good.”
The Wolfpack are now 4-0 on the year, but they looked like they were heading to their first defeat midway through the fourth quarter.
Lathrop quarterback Sophie Hale had scored on a touchdown run earlier in the game to give Lathrop a 6-0 lead and neither team had been able to do anything since. With just under seven minutes to go in the game, however, Peter found Hanson for the first West Valley score of the evening with a one-yard touchdown pass. Curiously, West Valley head coach Noah Harris opted to go for two even though the score was tied 6-6. The Wolfpack came up short and Lathrop got the ball back.
It seemed like things were about to work out for the Wolfpack anyway as Hale’s pass was intercepted by Kameryn Bartlett on the very first play of Lathrop’s ensuing possession. Though the Wolfpack managed to get down to the 10 yardline, Peter had a pass tipped twice in the air and Hannah Aemisegger came in with the immaculate interception.
Lathrop managed to move the ball down the field, but with just over 40 seconds remaining in the game, the Malemutes opted to punt the ball and play for the tie.
West Valley had no intention of playing for the tie.
Peter got a pass off to Maisy O’Neil who appeared to be heading all the way for a score when she tripped at the Lathrop 45 yardline. West Valley hurried up to the line of scrimmage to try and get once more play off. The game was on the line, bragging rights in the biggest rivalry in Fairbanks were on the line, and an undefeated season was on the line.
Peter and Hanson took erased the line with their 45-yard walk-off connection.
“We didn’t have a long touchdown like that the entire game so to score a (45-yard) touchdown to win the game (was great),” said Harris. “It was just one of those plays where it was a perfect connection between Aysha Peter, our QB, and Aaliyah.”