That was Batavia football coach Dennis Pirons first reaction, and it could have gone for anyone watching Batavias 42-41 opening-night victory Friday over Class 8A state contender Glenbard North in Carol Stream.
In a game of eight lead changes and two ties, Glenbard North junior back Justin Jackson scored on a 4-yard run with 1:02 left in the fourth quarter. After taking a timeout, Panthers coach Ryan Wilkens elected to go for the 2-point conversion rather than have kicker Hector Ortiz try to send the game into overtime.
Behind a double-tight end set plus fullback Shawn Lenahan, Jackson again got the ball, but Batavia senior safety Chris Moran came up to tackle Jackson shy of the goal line. Batavias Forrest Gilbertson recovered the ensuing onside kick, and last years 6A semifinalists ran out the clock.
Just knew they were trying to go outside, Moran said. They were beating us outside all game, and we saw it coming. Its great. Its a gutsy decision on their part, but we ended up on top.
When in doubt, Wilkens said, Im going to give Justin the ball. They made a great defensive play.
Jackson displayed why he has scholarship offers from Illinois, Purdue, Boston College and Northwestern when he ran for a 99-yard touchdown that with Ortizs kick tied the score 35-35 with 11:17 left in the game. Initially contained, Jackson finished with 174 yards on 25 carries with additional touchdown runs of 15 and 8 yards.
Weve got to get in the film room, fix some things, Jackson said. But we fought hard, you know? Go big or go home, you know? Who wants to go into overtime, go for the win.
Thats what Batavia got after senior defensive end Marquise Jenkins earned the rare defensive stop on a Panthers fourth-and-5 to regain possession with 3:09 left. From Batavias 39-yard line junior quarterback Micah Coffey completed passes to Michael Moffatt, Anthony Scaccia and Moffatt again on a 28-yard flare for a touchdown. Dan Albrechts kick gave Batavia a 42-35 lead with 1:49 remaining.
We knew they were going to go 1-on-1 with Zach (Strittmatter), said Coffey, who in his first varsity start completed 21 of 32 passes for 295 yards and 4 touchdowns, and ran 1 in himself. A lot of respect for Justin Jackson, the kids a heck of a player. But we came back to Moffatt, he beat his guy and I put it on the money.
Batavias Strittmatter caught 8 passes for 164 yards and 2 touchdowns and Scaccia ran for 97 yards. Glenbard North quarterback Brian Murphy ran for 133 yards with a 57-yard touchdown, and receiver Ryan Storto caught 7 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown.
A night like this, Piron said, it felt like a state championship game here. And I think we showed people were for real again.