After Two Season Injury, QB1 Returns, and With Conviction
On September 17, under the lights at Hanson Stadium in Forest Grove, Pacific football fans were a bit uneasy in their seats as the Boxers were down 10-7 at halftime to Pomona-Pitzer. The first half had been lackluster. The Boxer’s offense struggled to make plays or to put points on the board—and, worse yet, the student section was chanting for the backup quarterback.
For the second time this season, senior quarterback Ryan Helt had the offense’s reins and, indeed, he was off to a slow start. The Boxers desperately needed a comeback to win this game and Ryan to pull off some magic.
For Helt, this season was not only a senior season, but also a comeback season. During his sophomore year, Helt was injured badly enough for him to sit out nearly two years—and this was not the comeback he had been wanting.
“Basically, through high school, I chipped away at the cartilage in my knee, so during the COVID season during that first week of practice, I slipped and fractured the end of my femur,” explained Ryan. “I had two surgeries on it called the MACI surgery.”
The recovery sidelined Helt for two seasons, but he steadily fought to get his way back into the game—and during the Pomona game, he showed that resilience and steady determination. After the disappointing first half, the Boxers held steady with Pomona. But, with less than 3 minutes on the game clock, they still trailed by a touchdown—and Ryan had a game every quarterback dreams of.
Like a Nascar driver in Daytona, he drove the ball downfield, throwing for 71 yards and a game-tying touchdown caught by Isaiah Pitre, leaving only 15 seconds on the clock for Pomona to create a scoring opportunity. The opponents opted to kneel and take the game to overtime.
In overtime, Pomona had possession first, ultimately settling for a field goal after the Boxer’s defense made plays to hold them out of the end zone. Sancho Eskridge II and Robert Wood made key pass breakups. The dependable defense had given the Boxers a chance to win the game; sometimes, a chance is all you need.
Senior and running back Kash Taylor helped the Boxers find their way to the five-yard line after three plays of running a combined 20 yards. Third down, and the Boxers were faced with a tough choice: A touchdown wins the game, or a team has two options: kick a successful field goal or risk it all on the fourth down. Taking the snap on third down, Helt dropped back to pass, and threw a bee-line strike to his favorite target of the day in the end zone, Pitre, again.
“It was a great moment to come back in the fourth quarter; it’s what every quarterback dreams of in a game like that. It’s surreal; I got to thank everyone, especially the coaching staff, for believing in me,” said Helt.
The team stormed the field in excitement to celebrate the hard-earned come-from-behind victory. As the players made their way to the stands to celebrate with the fans, one circle started to form, and in the middle was Helt, surrounded by teammates celebrating his finish. Helt gave the crowd a stare that could even turn Medusa to stone, not a look of anger or hate, but an eye to let everyone know he has arrived.
The Boxers play Willamette Bearcats on Saturday, October 1, kick-off at 1 pm.
— Zander Breault