With the seconds ticking down and his team in need of some kind of momentum, David Mann took destiny into his hands.
The senior slotback hauled in a routine 10-yard pass from quarterback Kyle Menzies and turned into the South Delta Sun Devils most spectacular and important play of the season. Mann broke three tackles and 76-yards later was in the end zone with just 35 seconds left in the opening half. What looked like a comfortable lead going into the locker room for the John Barsby Bulldogs was suddenly down to a single point.
The Sun Devils took that momentum into the second half and built on it to pull away for a 27-12 victory and earn their fourth trip to the provincial "AA" championship game in school history.
Mann capped his memorable afternoon at UBC"s Thunderbird Stadium with a 65-yard interception for a major with 3: 42 remaining in the game. He nearly had another on a third quarter punt return.
"I got the ball and saw that open space. I knew I needed to make a play for my team to give us a spark or something," said the 6-foot-4, 200-pound senior who has CIS schools lining up for him.
"We played with so much heart today and I'm so proud of everyone."
Overshadowed by Mann's heroics was an outstanding defensive effort that held the Bulldogs vaunted double wing running attack in check for much of the game.
The only time the Sun Devils looked vulnerable was on a surprise Barsby pass play that set up the game's opening touchdown in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs took advantage of some special team breakdowns to get their other major on a blocked punt. However, they failed to capitalize on a third quarter fumble that gave them the ball on South Delta's 22-yard-line with the game's outcome very much in doubt as Matt Wollin came up with a huge tackle on a fourth and two gamble.
The defensive unit completed their splendid performance by forcing a turnover in the dying seconds when the Bulldogs blocked another Sun Devils punt inside the 10-yard-line.
"You have to play with a great deal of discipline against this team and we did that today," said Sun Devils head coach Ray Moon, who received a terrific effort from Grade 11 inside linebacker Austin Pearson. "They will look for the edge and, if you take that away, then they are looking for the cutback lane. We did a good job of taking both away.
"I think our kids were a little too excited. We told them to relax at halftime and remember how they were doing everything in the summer. We had some major problems on special teams today but the thing was it hurt us but didn't kill us."
It was one play after Wollin's fourth down stop when the Sun Devils swung the momentum for good on an electrifying 87-yard touchdown run by Shane Dagg. Mann's interception return ignited the South Delta post-game celebration even before the final whistle made it official.
"David can make those plays," added Moon. "He is a great athlete and a great guy.
"We can only do so much as coaches. What it always comes down to is how much heart you play with and the kids played with plenty of it today."