It seemed Lisle might finally reach the grail -- beating Wilmington in football.
Then Owen Weaver caught fire.
Down a point with four minutes left the 194-pound senior back broke carries of 17 and 24 yards to set up his 2-yard touchdown run with 1:15 left. Weaver's 2-point conversion gave Wilmington a 21-14 victory Friday at Benedictine University in Lisle.
"We had to fire back. We had to do something, had to get the momentum back to our side," said Weaver, who ran 35 times for 176 yards in the Interstate Eight Conference Small Division battle to pass 1,000 yards on the year.
Lisle's Mark McGrath gave the Lions a 14-13 lead with 8:10 left to play on a 35-yard touchdown pass to wide-open Josh Jamison, McGrath adding the kick.
At quarterback all but the last series when younger brother Jay targeted him at receiver, Mark McGrath ran for 66 yards and passed for 144 to account for 210 of the Lions' 214 yards of offense.
This time, he thought Lisle (3-3, 2-2) had the Wildcats. Instead Wilmington (6-0, 4-0) won its 44th straight league game and seeks a ninth straight division title.
"Even going into the game, (I thought) this was the year we were going to do it," McGrath said. "I was ready to go, we started off hot. We played a really good game on defense, a couple things here and there just didn't go our way, and that's football."
One came after Lisle's defense, led by linebacker Mark Pivek with 12 tackles and 3 for loss, forced a punt following Jamison's touchdown. On third-and-3 at the 50-yard line the Lions got penalized for not wearing a mouth guard.
"That's a tough call to make there, but with the concussions the way they are and mouth guards being huge with the concussion prevention they had to make that call," said acting coach John Parpet. "It was what it was, but it's the small details that win and lose a game."
Lisle head coach Paul Parpet Sr. was at the wedding of his daughter, Paulette. He'd prepared his team well. Lisle scored on its first possession, a 51-yard Cameron Stitt catch leading to McGrath's 5-yard touchdown run. McGrath's kick gave Lisle a 7-0 lead that stood at halftime.
Weaver's 10-yard run out of the Wildcat double-wing and Alex Hatten's extra point tied the score 7-7 with 12 seconds left in the third quarter. Wilmington, which averages nearly 46 points, led 13-7 with 10:35 to play, a 1-yard Weaver blast right after tight end Sam Jones' 44-yard catch.
"It's a typical Lisle-Wilmington game. They play us as hard as anybody," said Wildcats coach Jeff Reents. "What a great credit to coach Parpet, who's at a wedding tonight, and his (nephew) takes them and prepares them outstanding. Their kids played with a ton of heart, my hat's off to them."