You'd need more than a crowbar to separate Glenbard West and Neuqua Valley.
In the end a single play had to break them apart.
Logan Ryan's 31-yard field goal with 12 seconds left gave Glenbard West a 31-28 victory over the Wildcats in opening-round Class 8A football action Saturday in Naperville.
The 20th-seeded Hilltoppers (8-2), the defending Class 7A champions, advance to play unbeaten fourth seed Homewood-Flossmoor (10-0), a 49-21 winner over Evanston. The game will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at Glen Ellyn's Duchon Field.
"There's always nerves but you've got to take it like every other kick," Ryan said after kicking his third field goal of the season. "You've got to get used to it and you've got to handle the pressure."
Neither team led by more than a touchdown in a game that was tied four times. The score was knotted at the end of each quarter and for the last time in the fourth when Jackson Goleash scored on a 1-yard run, only to be answered by Cameron Raupach's 16-yard scoring run with 4:44 left.
"On both sides of the ball, we fought real hard," said Wildcats senior defensive lineman Tommy Ciesla. "Competitive game, we just came up short."
The teams traded three-and-outs, with Glenbard West getting the ball at its 28-yard line with 1:45 left. Cole Brady completions to Ryan Diver and Alec Pierce helped set up Ryan's game-winning kick on fourth-and-5.
"I think you can put this up with any of the wins we've had in our tenure here," said Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet. "To beat them at their place in the first round, I think it's huge. I couldn't be more proud of the way we played."
Brady completed 10 of 17 passes for 240 yards and 3 touchdowns. Pierce had 4 catches for 159 yards and a 76-yard touchdown, while Alex Pihlstrom snared 2 scoring catches. Diver rushed for 83 yards on 20 carries.
"All week we talked about going home to Duchon and playing another game there for the seniors," Pierce said.
Raupach ran for 132 yards including a 51-yard touchdown that tied the game at 21-21. Quarterback Jack Bastable scored on a 1-yard run to tie the game at 14-14 at the half. Jake Eskoff opened the game's scoring with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Ciesla.
"It didn't seem like a first-round playoff game, I'll tell you that," said Wildcats coach Bill Ellinghaus. "Well played game, we just fell a little short."
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