Grant linebacker Jimmy Taylor learned something about his head coach, Chris Robinson, on Friday night.
"He's a pretty strong guy," Taylor said with a smile.
Taylor knows that now because he jumped into Robinson's arms when he sprinted to the sideline as time expired on Grant's 9-7 Northern Lake County Conference win over Wauconda.
It was Grant's first win of the season and it came in dramatic fashion. The Bulldogs watched as visiting Wauconda lined up for a potential game-winning 31-yard field goal with 5 seconds left. But the field goal was about a yard short and a smidge to the right, and as the ball fell to the ground, bedlam ensued on the famished Grant sideline.
"That was so dramatic," Taylor said. "I was scared. I was out there (on the field) and I was trying to block (the field goal attempt) but couldn't do that so after the kick went up, I just turned around and watched it and it looked (like it was going through the uprights), but at the last second, it cut out.
"At that point, I just ran off the field, and jumped into Coach Robinson's arms and he caught me. It was awesome."
Grant is now 1-7 on the season, and 1-5 in the conference. Wauconda, which got its first win last week against Round Lake, drops to 1-7, 1-5 as well.
Grant got its only touchdown off its first drive of the game. Kenyon Jones capped an 8-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 6:14 left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs added to their lead when they got a safety in the second quarter. The Wauconda punt team was punting out of its own end zone and punter Andrew Saccameno, also the quarterback, was downed in the end zone.
Grant sputtered offensively the entire second half and gave Wauconda life at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Saccameno ran in a 3-yard touchdown to cap off a 9-play drive. That cut Grant's lead to 9-7.
"That helped so much," Saccameno said. "It helped get our confidence back after the first half. It gave us the boost that we needed to keep on going. I thought we were going to pull it off, but it fell short."
Grant couldn't string any drives together to keep the ball away from Wauconda in the fourth quarter and Wauconda took advantage. The visiting Bulldogs got the ball back with three minutes remaining and drove 60 yards to get inside the Grant 10-yard line.
Wauconda then ran in what looked to be a touchdown from 8 yards out with 35 seconds left but a holding penalty took the touchdown away. The visiting Bulldogs had also been called for another holding penalty two plays earlier that wiped out another nice run.
After the touchdown was taken back, Wauconda then called time out and then made the decision to go for the field goal.
"We had penalties that really cost us," Wauconda coach Dave Mills said. "We had to settle for a field goal because of that and we had confidence (in the field goal unit), but it just didn't go our way tonight. Unfortunately, we put ourselves is tough spots because we miss a play here or there and get those penalties and it just kills you."
Meanwhile, Grant is now looking forward to extending this newfound momentum into its season finale next week against Round Lake. The Bulldogs could match their win total (2) from last year.
"This feels good," Robinson said. "I'm very proud of our guys. It's nice that they got this and now we're focusing on the next game. We've got one more left. It's how hard we play and then we need to take the momentum we gain and build on it to work hard in the off-season. We can't forget what it felt like to start the season 0-7."