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Phoebus High School starting quarterback Nolan James was not active for Saturday’s state championship game after suffering a season-ending injury earlier in the year. That didn’t stop him fromsecuring a victory in the closing moments.
James, who led the Phantoms to a perfect record, broke his leg during a semifinal win. As a result, he missed out on the opportunity to complete his season and arrived to the game in a boot.
His replacement filled in just fine, however, and led Phoebus to a dominant 48-7 win in the Class 3 Virginia High School Football State Championship. The backup played all but one snap in the game— the last one.
As the clock wound down on the Phantoms’ state title game, the defense forced a turnover and gave the ball back to the offense with limited time remaining. With only a kneel down left, it was time for James to have his moment.
“It was special,” head coach James Blunt said of what happened next. “Everybody was happy that he was able to do it. Special moment, man, I’ll never forget it.”
Two offensive linemen went over to the sideline, wrapped their arms around their injured signal-caller and carried him out to the line of scrimmage. Once they reached the field, James took the snap from the shotgun and very carefully lowered his knee to the ground to put the game away.
It was an emotional moment for everybody involved.
“It meant everything,” Nolan James said. “Just the brotherhood, the family. These guys, they did it. They told me they were going to do it so I could get in there and get the last knee and my defense did it at the end and got me the ball back.”
While the win was one thing, getting James on the field to finish what he started was bigger than the score. Moments like what happened in Virginia on Saturday are what makes sports so special.