Rolling Meadows upsets Prospect, becomes playoff eligible
Rolling Meadows senior receiver Michael Brigham was catching passes and running for yardage all night at George Gattas Memorial Stadium in Mt. Prospect on Friday.
But his biggest catch turned out to be on defense.
Host Prospect was trying to complete what would have been one of its all-time greatest comebacks.
The Knights fell behind 26-10 with 7:47 left but got all the way back to within 26-24 and had the ball at the Meadows' 16-yard line with 26 seconds left.
On third down and 7, Prospect junior backup quarterback Bradley Vierneisel threw a 50/50 ball to classmate Rocco Falls in the corner of the north end zone. Brigham, a cornerback, went up for it as well, and came down with the interception to likely lock up a berth in the state playoff for Meadows (5-4, 3-2).
It was the first pick in his two-year varsity career.
"It came at the perfect time," said Brigham, who had caught 10 passes for 157 yards from quarterback Evan Grace. "I couldn't ask for anything else. It was a jump ball and I grabbed it on the way down. It was a great team win Prospect is a great team. I had so much fun,"
The fans were treated to a fun-packed dramatic finish in a well played Mid-Suburban East football game that left Prospect (7-2, 4-1) as the Mid-Suburban East co-champions with Buffalo Grove.
"Hats off to coach (Sam) Baker and Meadows," said Prospect coach Dan DeBoeuf. "They came ready to play and they played a really tough game. So congratulations to those guys."
The Mustangs, who trailed Prospect 41-0 at half of last spring's game, pulled away to a 20-3 lead at intermission this time, thanks to 2 TD passes by Grace (31 yards to Ethan Groark and 31 to Brigham) and 2 field goals by Lucas Greazel (31 and 20 yards).
Prospect's points came on Ben Sahakian's 25-yard field goal that tied the game at 3-3 early in the second quarter before Meadows scored the 17 unanswered points.
Knights ace QB Frank Covey (74 yards rushing) scored on a 4-yard run with 7:39 left in the third quarter to make it 20-10 but had to leave the game with an injury when he was sacked with 1:10 left in the same quarter.
Greazel added two more field goals to make it 26-10 when Vierneisel went to work, completing 8-of-11 passes for 166 yards in the final quarter.
"He has played a little bit here and there this season and I thought he did an awesome job when he got in there," DeBoeuf said. "He brought us right back into the game and we had a shot at the end.
"Obviously we really like our field goal kicker and thought about kicking a field goal on third down but we took a shot with a 50/50 ball and it is what it is. We didn't play well enough to win tonight. You can't put it on one play. It was the game as a whole. So we'll get ready for the postseason next week."
Jake Parisi was a key target for Vierneisel in the final 7:47 as he connected with his classmate from 25 and 19 yards to get the Knights to within 26-24 with 3:09 left.
Prospect then forced a punt which Greazel booted to the Knights' 11-yard line where they started their final drive.
"It was a little more scary than I wanted it to be going down to the wire," said PJ Ford, who played a key role putting pressure on the Knights' offensive backfield as well as joining fellow offensive linemen Dominic Fallico, Frank Eleftheriou, Nick Galvan and Joey Maloney to protect Grace who was 18-of-27 for 307 yards.
"We always want to beat Prospect so that was a big incentive."
Groark finished with 7 receptions for 145 yards.
"We knew that Groak and Brigham were going to have to make all the catches and that we'd have to kind of lean on them," Baker said. "We trusted them and they did a wonderful job. They came through."
Just like Brigham on the game's final play.
"He is an unbelievable football player," Baker added. "This was a great high school football game. I told the kids there are only maybe four to five games you'll remember your entire career and this is one of them. You remember every detail. To win against your biggest rival after being down 41-0 at half last spring (48-14 final) is just a great way to rebound and get ourselves into the payoffs."