There were a dozen plays you could choose from as the defining play of the opening week showdown between Montini and Palatine on Friday night.
There were the three Montini touchdowns to open the game, and Palatines subsequent four scores to take a 28-21 lead with less than four minutes to play in the third quarter. There was the 2-point conversion pass by Montini kicker Andrew Harte after a botched snap to give the visiting Broncos a 29-28 lead going into the fourth.
It was a fourth quarter that saw the Pirates take a 37-29 lead with 2:29 to play only to have Montini quarterback Alex Wills complete passes to receiver Mark Gorogianis on a third-and-10 and a fourth-and-10 before connecting with him on a game-tying two-point conversion after an 18-yard touchdown run by Tucker Mucha with 48 seconds to play.
All of that happened, and we didnt even know the winner.
After that wild action, it was a 32-yard field goal by Harte that won the game for Montini by a score of 40-37, but the Broncos needed one more spectacular play to get there.
Linebacker Mike Maduko intercepted Palatine quarterback Ethan Olles on a play eerily similar to the 1997 kick play between Nebraska and Missouri. On that play a diving Nebraska receiver caught a touchdown pass after another teammate and receiver kicked the ball into the air. Maduko, who said afterward he had no idea what the Nebraska kick play was, had the perfect description of Montinis own kick play.
Our middle linebacker, Joe Nitti tipped it, Maduko said. Our outside linebacker Tyler Quick kicked it up with his foot. He slide tackled and kicked it up, popped it up, and it landed in my hands. I was astonished. I dont know how it happened.
Montini coach Chris Andriano, who was inducted into the Palatine Hall of Fame prior to the game, said his team never gave in.
We just kept believing, Andriano said. We had to get a stop. We had to score a touchdown. We had to get a 2-point play. We had to do a lot of things at the end of the game.
Both teams overcame significant injuries. Palatine was without Cam Kuksa and Jesse Bobbit, both play receiver and defensive back, for most of the game, while Montini lost tailback Dimitri Taylor in the first quarter and receiver Joe Borsellino (11 catches, 126 yards, 6 carries, 21 yards, 3 total touchdowns) in the fourth.
It was one of the more exciting games Ive ever coached, Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly said. We had a lot of kids step up. Im very, very proud of our kids.
Olles completed 25-of-35 passes for 310 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also carried the ball 22 times for 63 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Ryan Gronwick had 8 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown.
Wills was 28-for-37 for 299 yards with 3 touchdown passes.