DES MOINES — Host Des Moines Hoover stopped Perry on a quarterback run up the middle from inside of two yards away on the final play of Friday’s game to escape with a 14-9 win over the Bluejays.
Perry found some offensive rhythm in the contest, especially in the first half, when they drove the ball several times deep into Huskies territory only to be kept off the scoreboard.
The Bluejay defense played their best game of the season, avoiding big plays and forcing the hosts to pound out extended drives, which they were unable to do.
The game entered the intermission scoreless, and an energized Perry squad emerged from the locker room eager to grab victory.
Quarterback Caden Heck rolled out and found Gavin Hegstrom for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 5:50 left to play in the third quarter to give Perry their first lead in a game in 19 contests. Abe Ruiz booted the extra-point kick, putting the score at 7-0.
Hoover returned a Perry punt for a TD later in the frame, then added a two-point conversion to snatch an 8-7 advantage.
A short scoring run gave the hosts a 14-7 lead, with the Perry defense nearly scored a touchdown of their own midway through the frame.
Hoover snapped the ball from only two yards from their own end zone and tried to run off right tackle, but Bluejay defenders jarred the ball loose, the pigskin bounding into the end zone. Several Perry players dove for the ball, but it eluded their best efforts and squirted beyond the back line for a safety that made the score 14-9.
Perry drove inside the Hoover five-yard line in the waning seconds and had several snaps with the outcome up for grabs. The final hike came with two ticks remaining and ended with the Jays inches shy of the goal line and victory.
Bluejay head coach Bryce Pierce said he, like the team, was disappointed to have been so close to victory only to see it slip away, but noted their were numerous positives the team could take from the experience.
Pierce said it was the best effort he had seen in his 13 games as head coach of the Jays and said he believed the team was starting to have faith in their abilities to effect the outcome on the field. He said he was looking forward to building on what the team learned and using it to continue making improvement.
Heck was 6-of-11 for 61 yards and a touchdown through the air for the guests. He was intercepted twice.
Jeremiah Cregeen ran for 39 yards on seven carries and Christian Garrido 38 yards on 14 hauls as Perry had their most successful rushing attack to date this year. Heck added 20 yards on 10 totes.
Tanner Burgin led the defense with eight tackles, with Cregeen making seven while Juan Hernandez and Manny Soto had five stops apiece.
Perry (0-4) begins Class 4A District 5 play Friday with a trip to Indianola (4-0). All D5 games will kick off at 7:30 p.m.