Helix High's football team made like an illusionist in its opener at Southwest High.
It's offense made Southwest's defense disappear on a 61-yard touchdown play in the first-half. Helix almost let a 20-point lead disappear in the second half and it watched as a key possession disappeared with more than a minute remaining.
What didn't vanish was a 20-17 victory.
The Highlanders first trick came on the second play of the second quarter. On his 39, quarterback Greg Wilbur faked a bootleg and drew Southwest's secondary out of position.
Jeremy Gottlieb was running a corner post. He was all alone when he caught Wilbur's pass in stride for the easy touchdown and a 10-0 lead.
"He (Wilbur) just pulled a great con and they bought the sweep," Gottlieb said.
Wilbur threw a second touchdown pass with 1:35 remaining in the half. He hit Corey Ward on an out pattern from the 16.
It was 20-0 after Gottlieb kicked his second field goal, a 31-yarder, following Helix's first drive of the third quarter.
Then Southwest got busy.
Tony Diaz caught a 21-yard touchdown pass three minutes later, making it 20-7. With two minutes gone in the final quarter, Ray Winkowski made a 32-yard field goal, cutting the margin to 10 points.
The Raiders then survived two Helix drives that moved to the one-yard line. Tom Lapira squelched the first attack when he intercepted a pass in the end zone, and Helix aborted its next threat when running back Chris Korner, who was playing despite an injury, lost the ball. The Raiders recovered at the 7.
It took Southwest seven plays to move 93 yards for the final score with 1:42 left. Jimmy Altringer finished things, catching an eight-yard touchdown pass from back-up quarterback Tony Diaz.
The ensuing onside kick looked to be covered by Southwest's Omar Silva, who quickly found himself on the bottom of a pile.
When the pile was untangled, Helix's Ryan Vanderhoofven was holding the ball and the referees gave possession to Helix.
The Helix players celebrated--prematurely. The referees huddled and changed their decision, indicating that Silva had possession and the play blown dead when Vanderhoofven fell on top of him.
"I had the ball," Vanderhoofven said. "He (the referee) called white ball."
Southwest's last shot, which came on a third-and-10 situation, consisted of Diaz connecting with John Cotton for a 17-yard completion, which moved the ball to the 28. On the next third-and-10 situation, the Helix rush got to Diaz who threw the ball up for grabs. It was intercepted by Brandon Cannon.