For the first time this season, both Barrington and Fremd found themselves in a battle in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
With 1:35 left in the game, Barrington needed 6 yards to put the contest away.
Ray Niro instead gave his team 54, not only converting the third-down play but scoring a touchdown to lead the Broncos to a 26-14 victory in the Mid-Suburban West opener.
"What you want is to find a way to get the ball in the hands of one of your best players," Barrington coach Joe Sanchez said. "Certainly Ray has proven to be one of our best players, and he made a play."
As Niro made his way around the corner on the pivotal play, he had nothing but open space in front of him, helping keep his team undefeated at 5-0, and now 1-0 in the West.
"I just looked and I was like, wow, there is a lot of space," said Niro, whose team will play Palatine on the road next week. "But look, because Fremd shut that down all game, for once there was an opening. … Our offensive line did such a good job today. They did such a good job, especially on that third-and-6. I was like I just have to trust them."
Fremd fell to 0-5, its worst start in a couple of decades. But for the Vikings, progress was made.
Despite playing one of the top teams in the conference, Fremd held Barrington to its lowest point total of the year. The Broncos had scored at least 34 points in each of their previous four games.
And the Vikings got off on the right foot. Fremd couldn't have asked for a better start.
After the defense held the Broncos to a three-and-out on the game's first drive, Nick Rattin capped a 10-play, 69-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown run.
"I think the whole team showed up," Fremd coach Lou Sponsel said. "We got 52 guys on the roster, and I felt like there were 52 personalities practicing and playing the game of football. I think overall, the biggest improvement was our approach to the game."
Fremd scored again on its first drive of the second half to take a 14-6 lead with Andrew Saxe taking the ball 30 yards for the score. But from that point on, Fremd relied on its defense to keep it in the game.
The Vikings stopped Barrington four times on fourth down, and twice in the red zone. The defensive line constantly put pressure on Niro, sacking him four times, including two from Devin Dinham. Elliot Kim added an interception.
"We just keyed on Niro," said senior defensive lineman Will McCabe, whose team will host Conant next week. "He is a great player. We just wanted to take him out of the game and make their other playmakers make plays. It was a team effort to slow him down. If we can slow him down, we can stay in the game."
McCabe put the Vikings in favorable position late in the fourth quarter, recovering a fumble near midfield.
The Broncos defense, however, played a solid game as well and stifled the Vikings on that drive. Barrington had 5 sacks and forced 3 turnovers, including fumble recoveries by Steve Latimer and Alec Gibas, and an interception by Alec Andrea.
With the Broncos defense coming through in key situations, Niro and the offensive were able to come away with key plays down the line for the victory. Niro had two touchdown runs, and Andrea and Michael Curran each added a score.
"This is what I would call a typical Barrington-Fremd game," Sanchez said. "I mean, you just take a look at the years in the rivalry, the scores that have come in this game and this is what you are going to get."