ATWATER — It took almost a year, but Nathan Sanchez finally wrote his happy ending.
And what an ending it was.
Atwater’s junior quarterback engineered the game-winning drive with five minutes left, and then intercepted Buhach Colony's Hail Mary pass at the finish to secure a 20-14 Bloss Bowl victory at Falcon Field on Friday night.
"We needed him to step up tonight and that's what he did," Atwater running back Dexter Coward said of Sanchez.
"He drove us down the field and called the plays to give us the win.
"He had a chip on his shoulder. You could tell. That loss last year was tough on him and he wanted revenge."
In 2007, Sanchez was stopped 5 yards short of the potential game-winning touchdown on Atwater's final drive in an 18-13 loss to BC.
This time, he made sure Atwater (2-0 Central California Conference, 3-2 overall) cashed in on its last possession.
“After last year, I kind of forgot about the loss,” Sanchez said. “It was almost like a fresh start coming into this week.”
“I still kind of had a grudge against them,” Sanchez finally admitted. “They came into our house and beat us.”
With 5:34 left in a 14-14 game, Sanchez led Atwater on a 13-play, 70-yard drive.
Sanchez did a little bit of everything, too.
He carried the ball four times for 26 yards, and then connected with Coward on passes of 12 and 14 yards on consecutive plays.
The last — a bullet over the middle on third-and-6 — moved Atwater inside the Buhach Colony 20.
After Sanchez scrambled for a 9-yard pickup, Coward bulled his way into the end zone for a 20-14 lead.
“I just kept thinking, ‘Give me a chance. Please give me a chance,’ ” Coward said. “When we got to the 10, I knew I had to put it in.”
BC, which rallied from a 14-0 deficit with two third-quarter scores, still had time for one last play.
With chants of “We believe!” ringing from the sideline, quarterback Kyle Davey rolled to his right and tossed one final pass toward the end zone.Sanchez picked it off and ran out the clock, unleashing a wild celebration.
Atwater now leads the cross-town series, 2-1.
After trailing for most of the game, BC (0-2, 2-4) rallied in the third on the strength of its running game.
Davey scored twice, including a 1-yard keeper to make it 14-14 heading into the fourth.
But the offense stalled on back-to-back possessions inside Atwater territory in the fourth quarter, giving Sanchez one last shot at redemption.
“We wanted the ball in Nate’s hands,” said Atwater coach Bob Valladao.
Buhach Colony coach Kevin Swartwood refused to speak with the media after the game.