It was a defensive performance which preserved the win not only once but twice - in a row.
And it was Vista Ridge's defense who put the Wolves in a great spot with a 31-27 win.
With playoffs charging closer, plenty was on the line in lieu of wild-card points for the 4A Pikes Peak League's Sand Creek (6-3, 3-3 league) and Vista Ridge (6-3, 4-2) Friday in their conference battle at Vista Ridge.
After regaining the lead twice in the second half, Vista Ridge found itself backed against the goal line at their own 4-yard line after two costly penalties with less than 3 minutes remaining.
However, Vista Ridge's defensive line and secondary put the Scorpions into a fourth-and-goal situation. Sand Creek went for it, only to find Wolves junior linebacker Jaelyn Penn break through and sack Scorpions quarterback Micheal DeCarmo. DeCarmo was Penn's sole assignment all night.
"I just trusted I took the right angle," Penn said. "I trusted my defensive backs had their coverage, so I could execute my assignment."
The next Scorpions drive again moved the ball, as DeCarmo and the passing game created big yardage to move into Vista Ridge territory.
Junior defensive back Malick Smith picked off DeCarmo, but the play was ruled an incomplete pass. With 30 seconds remaining, Smith saw his moment a second time.
"This one was mine," Smith said. "This will set the tone for the playoffs. It was like one of those Madden moments."
Smith came up with an undeniable interception, setting up the Wolves offense to take a knee and put their 31-27 win in the books.
Vista Ridge's passing game struggled for consistency in the second half while producing big yardage from one huddle yet couldn't connect a 10-yard slant from the next. However, the Wolves' defense tightened up, especially at the line and gave the Scorpions backfield a chase through much of the fourth quarter.
"I was so happy our offense and defense came up with big enough plays to win it out," Penn said.
Smith said despite giving up some big plays to Sand Creek, he was pleased to see the Wolves defense pull it out off in the end.
"The D-line was getting a push," he said. "We all came together as a team in the last minutes of the game."
From the offense, senior Dedrick Lee put up two touchdowns for the Wolves on the ground with a 1-yard rush in the third quarter and a 4-yard trek in the fourth.