Branden Gallimore dreamed about it when he was a little kid.
"Every single night," Antioch's senior quarterback said.
But, really, who dreams about "this?" This was ...
"It was madness," Antioch safety Andrew Hare said.
Rallying twice in the fourth quarter? On the rival high school's field? To keep your football team's two-year unblemished conference record and undefeated season intact?
It happened on a soggy night in Lake Villa on Friday, and all Gallimore could do was smile and enjoy the surreal moment. He dreamed about being part of a winning touchdown drive at the end of the game, and his 8-yard TD pass to Steven Baum with 16 seconds left made it a reality, as Antioch outlasted Lakes 34-31 in a Northern Lake County Conference showdown that lived up to the hype.
"I feel like I'm dreaming right now," Gallimore said after also rushing for a pair of fourth-quarter scores. "It's amazing. But when you have teammates like I do and offensive linemen like I do, and backs that get keyed on to give me openings to run the ball, it makes my job a lot easier. All credit goes to those guys."
Antioch improved to 7-0 and 5-0 in the NLCC in beating Lakes for the sixth time in the 13 meetings between the district rivals. Since the conference started last year, the Sequoits have not lost a game (12-0). Lakes fell to 6-1 and 4-1.
"I thought we came back and did enough a couple of times," Eagles first-year coach Jordan Eder said. "In these types of games, a couple of plays add up."
Both teams made plenty of plays in the fourth quarter. Hunter Price (21 carries, 133 yards) scored from 3 yards out in the third quarter to get Antioch within 17-14. But Lakes looked in good shape when Jake Johnson (11-of-22 passing, 202 yards) hit Parker Canning on a 39-yard TD pass on the second play of the fourth quarter.
Down 24-14, Antioch responded, as Ben Nauman's 35-yard run led to Gallimore's 1-yard leap into the end zone with eight minutes left. Johnson then threw a screen pass that Griffin Hackeloer intercepted at the Lakes 19, setting up the Sequoits at the 8. Three plays later, on fourth-and-goal from the 4, Gallimore scored on a naked bootleg, winning a race to the corner to put Antioch up 28-24 with 4:13 to go.
Back came Lakes, as Johnson atoned for his interception by hitting Ethan Greenfield in the end zone on fourth-and-16 from 21 yards out with 1:17 left, capping a 10-play drive after back-to-back penalties wiped out would-be TDs.
And then back came Antioch. Gallimore hit Baum for 27 yards on fourth-and-13 from the Antioch 49. Five plays later, the two seniors hooked up again, and the Sequoits had the lead back.
"I have full faith in my quarterback," Hare said. "I've been playing with him since I was in second grade so I know that he can make plays."
Greenfield (16 carries, 96 yards) had started the scoring, rushing in from the 4 on the first play of the second quarter to cap a nine-play, 43-yard drive. The Eagles missed the extra point but got a break when Antioch fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Chance Hoeller picked up the ball at the 20 and scored, giving the home team 2 touchdowns in 10 seconds. Greenfield then used second and third efforts to run for the conversion and make it 14-0.
Antioch finally put together its first extended drive midway through the second quarter. After a heavy diet of Price helped the Sequoits move the ball downfield, fullback/starting defensive lineman Joe Karolewicz got his first carry of the season and busted up the middle 20 yards to get Antioch on the board. The 10-play drive covered 62 yards.
Lakes responded, getting a 29-yard field goal from Ryan Carr, and the Eagles took a 17-7 lead into halftime.
"The first half we came out really soft," Hare said. "In the second half we really picked it up. That fourth quarter was just all over the place."
Antioch also rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Woodstock North in Week 2.
"We never put our head down. We never give up," Gallimore said. "We're a fourth-quarter team. That's all I can say."
Starting at the Antioch 47 in the final seconds after Antioch's go-ahead TD, Lakes had three shots at the end zone, before a sack ended the game.
"What are you going to do?" Eder said. "Great environment, good game."