So many things made this football season so memorable for Staley.
An undefeated season.
A second state championship.
And one breathtaking play.
The perfect record and the championship came after J.D. Benbow caught a pass from John Raybourn for a two-point conversion with 9 seconds left, providing the decisive points during Staley’s 36-35 victory against Pattonville in the Class 5 state championship Nov. 25 at Memorial Stadium in Columbia.
Both superlatives appeared in doubt after Pattonville quarterback Kaleb Eleby, who riddled the Falcons’ defense for 410 passing yards, threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Charles Shelton with 57 seconds left for a 35-28 lead.
Staley stormed back with a six-play, 72-yard drive, capped by Raybourn’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Zach Elam.
Rather than go for a game-tying extra-point, the Falcons decided to win (or lose) it there.
Raybourn rolled to his right on the two-point attempt and, as the defense closed on him, found Benbow wide open back to the left in the end zone.
Benbow cradled the ball as he fell backward in the end zone as his teammates erupted in a wild celebration.
Raybourn threw two touchdown passes for Staley, both of them to Elam, who finished with 102 receiving yards on three catches. The two-way star also returned an interception 27 yards for the Falcons’ first touchdown and had three sacks with six tackles for loss.
Staley (14-0) capped a perfect season with the second state title in the school’s 10-year history. The Falcons’ first came in 2011.