Posted On: 08/30/19 4:24 AM

Fourth and goal from the two-yard line with less than ten seconds to go in the game – not a bad way to start the high school football season. The Eastview Lightning trailed 17-7 on their home field in the fourth quarter but rallied back to put themselves in position to win the game with one play. When Lightning quarterback Max Sherwin – in his first career start – threw a fade to wide receiver DJ Barber in the right corner of the end zone, the senior receiver pulled in the ball and kept his feet in bounds to give the Lightning the 21-17 win.
After a first half dominated by defense, the Lightning and the Minnetonka Skippers went into half time tied at seven.
Neither team could generate much offense. In the first quarter, neither team crossed midfield. Playing shorthanded on offense, Eastview senior running back Zach Miller was given the start. Miller got loose up the middle on two straight runs to get the Lightning inside the red zone for the first time. Miller would cap the drive with a 16-yard touchdown run.
The defense came up big late in the first half. The Skippers entered the red zone for the first time in the game with under four minutes to play. After a penalty took away a Skippers’ touchdown, a high shotgun snap resulted in a turnover to keep the Skippers off the board.
The Lightning had a chance to run out the clock, but on third and five, Barber dropped a pass that would have resulted in a first down. It likely would have meant the end of the first half. Forced to punt, Eastview’s defense finally cracked.
“My teammates lifted me up at halftime, and we were able to come back and execute,” Barber said. “I didn’t let it keep me down the whole game – I am proud of that.”
Three straight completions gave the Skippers a first and goal with under a minute to play. Quarterback Luke Tollefson capped off the drive with an eight-yard touchdown run to tie the score. On the drive, Tollefson completed two passes, carried the ball and even caught a pass on a throwback trick play for a first down.
Minnetonka dominated the third quarter and built a 17-7 lead. It could have been a bigger lead if it had not been for Eastview’s Daniel Swedin – who stuffed Tonka on third and goal from the one – forcing a field goal.
Later, Miller picked up a first down on a broken play to keep an Eastview drive alive. After working the ball back into the red zone, Miller scored his second touchdown of the game to cut the lead to 17-14 with just under six minutes to play.
“He stepped up and played amazing,” Eastview head coach Kelly Sherwin said. “He is maybe our smartest kid on offense. Zach can play every position on offense – including quarterback – and know what to do. You couldn’t ask any more from that kid.”
Minnetonka converted on a third and four to keep the clock moving. Then near midfield, Minnetonka gambled on a fourth and one. The Lightning defense made yet another stand – giving the ball back to the offense with less than two minutes to play.
“Our kids rose up and made it happen,” Sherwin said. “It was a heck of a play by the defense and gave us a chance.”
With 1:20 to play, Barber made up for his drop in the first half. Max Sherwin found Barber deep down the middle of the field and Barber made a juggling catch inside the five-yard line.
“If it weren’t for my teammates, I never would have been in that position,” Barber said. “It was a great catch, but each of us played a part. Everything that happened before made it happen.”
“We kind of made that play up on the fly,” Coach Sherwin admitted. “We thought we had a chance to hit him on the post and he made a great adjustment by Barber.”
During Week One last year, Eastview almost pulled off an upset over Eden Prairie, but late in the game, at about the same place on the field, instead of a touchdown, the Lightning threw an interception.
Minnetonka stopped the Lightning on three straight plays. On third down, Sherwin missed an open receiver in the end zone. Like Barber, Sherwin – who played a solid game overall – would redeem himself on the final play. The touchdown pass with four seconds on the clock would give the Lightning a 21-17 win.
Next week Eastview (1-0) hosts Burnsville. Minnetonka (0-1) hosts St. Michael-Albertville.