BROOMFIELD - How much more ironic could it have been?
There were 78 points and 917 yards of offense between the two teams, yet it came down to a defensive play.
So when Holy Family's Kyle Helbig went in for defense - he's also a wide receiver -- for just his third snap of the game on that side of the ball and with 20 seconds left, little did he know he would make the play to decide it.
Helbig, a sophomore, broke into the backfield and knocked the ball away from Mead quarterback Riley Glynn on fourth down to preserve the Tigers' rousing, dramatic and quite exhausting 43-35 decision over the Mavericks on Friday night at Mike G. Gabriel Stadium.
The victory pushed the Tigers to 6-2 overall and 3-0 atop the Class 4A Tri-Valley League.
Life in the fast lane for Holy Family remains a real labor of love. It's as if the Tigers are on an offensive ride at an amusement park and they refuse to get off.
"That was a lot of fun," Helbig said. "I just went my hardest. I just went right past the tackle and saw (Glynn's) hand and hit the ball."
And, sure, Tigers coach Mike D. Gabriel said, he's aging rapidly with his team along the frenetic pace it has chosen, but he offered no excuses ... or stop signs.
"I believe it," he said of gray hair and wrinkles coming his way. "It is ironic but our defense has been playing really well and those kids needed a shot to win a game for us and they did."
Holy Family never gave up the lead, but it wasn't because the Mavericks, now 5-3, 2-1, weren't trying. Hardly. Back and forth they went, trading scores, big plays, rushes, passes, bad punts, penalties, fumbles and anything else you wish to detail.
Holy Family, which won its third consecutive game, rolled behind Michael Zeman on the ground and quarterback Stone Samaras tossing it here, there and everywhere to an assortment of receivers. Zeman roared to 187 yards rushing, including scoring bursts of 19 and 47 yards, and Samaras threw for 233 yards and three TDs. He also rushed for another, but the dark side of the Tigers' force was felt - he left the game with 4:36 to go with a left knee injury and Gabriel was unable to report anything new.
"All we can do is pray and take it as it comes," he said. "He just went down weird ... he was putting some weight on it, so I'm optimistic ... I think he'll be OK."
For what it's worth, Chris Helbig, the Tigers quarterback the past two seasons, went down in both 2014 and 2015 with shoulder and knee injuries.
As for Mead, stellar running back Nathan Mackey, a junior, carried 34 times for 220 yards and three TDs, and caught four passes for 83 yards. Riley also came alive late, but the Mavs ultimately found themselves a step behind the whole game.
"Jason (Klatt, the Mavs head coach) does a great job and they always give us a great battle," Gabriel said. "I'm just glad we came out on top."
Saud Klatt: "(Mackey) runs his butt off, he sleeps good every Friday night and, I think, in a bucket of ice ... we missed a lot of opportunities early and against a team like that you have to capitalize ... but our kids fight."
Holy Family 43, Mead 35
At Mike G. Gabriel StadiumMead 0 13 7 15 — 35
Holy Family 9 13 7 14 — 43
Holy Family — Joey Golter 29 pass from Stone Samaras (pass failed), 5:25.Holy Family — FG Matteo Lonardo 30, 0:11.
Mead — Nathan Mackey 53 run (Taylor Kamigaki kick), 10:56. Holy Family — Samaras 1 run (Lonardo kick), 8:00.Mead — Gino Musick 2 run (run failed), 2:26.Holy Family — Kyle Helbig 19 pass from Samaras (kick failed), 0:25.
Mead — Mackey 3 run (Kamigaki kick), 5:47.Holy Family — Michael Zeman 19 run (Lonardo kick), 3:09.Mead — Derrick Edwards 41 pass from Riley Glynn (Kamigaki kick), 9:00.Holy Family — Travis Montoya 44 pass from Samaras (Lonardo ick), 7:54.Mead — Mackey 2 run (Tyler Keys run), 4:51.
Holy Family — Zeman 47 run (Lonardo kick), 11:50.Mead — Derrick Edwards 41 pass from Riley Glynn (Kamigaki kick), 9:00. Holy Family — Travis Montoya 44 pass from Samaras (Lonardo kick). Mead — Mackey 2 run (Tyler Keys run), 4:51.
RUSHING — Mead: Mackey 34-220; Glynn 20-50; Musick 10-44; Keys 2-12;Edwards 1-1. Holy Family: Zeman 19-187; Samaras 8-15; Helbig 7-10.
PASSING — Mead: Glynn 10-24-0-143, Holy Family: Samaras 15-25-0-233, McIntyre 3-4-0-49.
RECEIVING — Mead: Mackey 4-83; Dominic Esters 3-31; Edwards 3-29. Holy Family: Helbig 7-73; Montoya 4-86; Golter 3-67; Zeman 1-7.