For St. Charles East's football team, it was an instant classic.
For St. Charles North, it was an instant replay.
Trailing 21-13 after North Stars senior running back Evan Kurtz (36 carries, 236 yards) raced 76 yards for a touchdown with 8:09 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Saints (3-0, 1-0) came up with a couple huge plays of their own down the stretch during their 28-21 overtime victory Friday night at Norris Stadium.
First, senior quarterback Jimmy Mitchell (12 of 26, 203 yards) connected with tailback Erik Anderson for a 34-yard TD pass with 3:15 left in regulation that brought the Saints within 21-19.
After the first 2-point pass attempt from Mitchell to senior receiver Brannon Barry was nullified due to a penalty, Mitchell tossed a 2-point pass to Mitch Munroe to tie the game at 21-21.
"We ran a wheel (play)," said Munroe, who caught 5 passes for 129 yards, including a 90-yard TD reception on the Saints' first possession less than 4 minutes into the contest. "I was open and Jimmy (Mitchell) found me. It was a big relief."
In overtime, St. Charles East started with the ball and took its first lead since the opening quarter when Barry took a handoff from Mitchell and ran into the end zone untouched from 10 yards out.
"When I cut back, I knew the ground was slick but I just kept cutting and cutting," said Barry. "I took it back to the inside and it was open. It's the first play in the backfield of my life."
Anderson, substituting after regular place-kicker Pat Frio was cramping up, booted the extra point and the Saints grabbed a 28-21 lead.
"Erik had some huge plays down the stretch there," said Saints coach Mike Fields, whose team has now won its last 6 cross-town meetings.
St. Charles North's overtime possession began on a sour note when Kurtz was brought down for a 1-yard loss by Saints defensive lineman Luke Spicer.
After a 2-yard gain by the North Stars' workhorse back, a pair of incompletions in the end zone sealed the decision for the Saints and set off a wild celebration scene near the 20-yard line.
"We tell our team about the highs and lows all the time," said Fields. "You don't take the highs too high and you don't take the lows too low. And you just don't quit. This team never quit."
"We fought and we fought," said Barry. "It didn't come easy but it came.
"All of the players were wearing our 'Score for Scott,' shirts under our jerseys," Barry said of the campaign honoring the late Scott Munroe (father of Mitch), who died after battling cancer this past summer. "When we were on defense there at the end, we said in the huddle that we needed a 'Stop for Scott.'"
It marked the second overtime defeat in 3 games for the North Stars (1-2, 0-1), who led 14-7, 14-13 and 21-13 thanks in part to the play of Kurtz (3 TD runs) and their superb offensive line play that accounted for 342 rushing yards.
"Evan (Kurtz) ran the ball hard and the offensive line did a nice job but we've got to learn how to finish a game," said North Stars coach Rob Pomazak. "When you're up 8 with 3 minutes left, you've got to learn how to win the game.
"We've got to do a better job of processing crucial moments of the game," he added. "And when our backs are against the wall, we have to put the ball in the end zone."