When Naperville Central receiver Ethan Allgauer received Payton Thorne's pass, he saw three green Waubonsie Valley football helmets.
Two nice cuts later, he saw nothing but green grass as he completed a 31-yard touchdown that gave the visiting Redhawks a scintillating 43-37 come-from-behind DuPage Valley Conference victory.
"It was a normal slant route and I just got the ball and kept running," Allgauer said. "I didn't think much, I saw some guys around me and wanted to get through them and get to the end zone."
Allgauer's score came with 46 seconds to play and fully erased the 37-28 deficit the Redhawks (4-0, 4-0) faced with less than 11 minutes to play. They pulled within 37-35 when Thorne -- who threw for 312 yards and 4 touchdowns -- found Jayden Reed -- who caught 10 of those passes for 164 yards and 2 scores -- with a 57-yard strike down the sideline.
"If the fans didn't enjoy that, that was just a great high school football game," said Naperville Central coach Mike Stine. "That is a great 1-3 team over there. We were very fortunate to beat them tonight."
The game started out as a typical smashmouth DVC contest. Naperville Central held a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter courtesy of A.J. Deinhart's 1-yard run and Thorne's 19-yard TD pass to Reed, which offset Nate Ashford's 29-yard run that gave the Warriors (1-3, 1-3) a 7-0 lead after four minutes.
Then the game hit warp speed. In just more than a six-minute stretch, the teams combined for six scores. Waubonsie's Tanner Westwood tied the game with a 54-yard run before the Warriors looked to take control.
After a bad Redhawks punt snap gifted the Warriors a safety, Harper Cole returned the ensuing free kick 81 yards to make it 23-14. That wasn't the end of the fireworks, though. Thorne answered with a 28-yard TD toss to Allgauer, and Waubonsie answered with Westwood's 45-yard scoring strike to Eric Esch.
Deinhart made it 30-28 at the break with a 2-yard run 12 seconds before halftime. Bryce Logan's 3-yard run was the only scoring of a calmer third quarter, but Naperville Central's late-game heroics erased that 37-28 deficit.
"That was huge, they had their heads down after the safety and then we got the kick return, but we couldn't stop them at the end," said Waubonsie coach Paul Murphy. "It was our best week of practice this season and I told them they have nothing to hang their heads about. They just made plays at the end."