ICCP rallies in final seconds
Someday, many years from now, the grandkids are going to hear the story about the time Jake Lytton caught the winning pass in the waning seconds that lifted IC Catholic Prep to an improbable 21-20 football win over Bishop McNamara.
The Knights senior two-way leader hauled in a 50-yard touchdown pass from Khalil Saunders with 16.2 seconds left on the scoreboard Friday as the hosts rallied to stun the visiting Fighting Irish. Bishop McNamara brought a 3-0 record of its own onto the field and built a 14-0 lead in the third quarter before the two-time defending state champs rallied to draw even at 14 after three quarters.
But Bishop McNamara retook the lead at 20-14 on the third of three short TD runs by Tyshon King and later looked primed for the victory after the Knights lost a fumble with 2:26 left to play. The ICCP defense, however, stood tall, got the ball back with 34.6 seconds left and that set the stage for Lytton's memorable grab.
From the 50 following a 5-yard penalty by the Irish, Saunders dropped back, got just enough time from his blockers, and fired a perfect strike to Lytton, who grabbed the ball in the end zone despite tight coverage by Bishop McNamara's Payton Gerberding.
"The offensive line did a great job, Khalil threw a perfect ball and all I had to do was catch it," said Lytton, who had 5 catches for 120 yards, including the game-winner. "It was unreal. I am going to remember that play and this game when I'm 80 years old."
This was a classic, hard-hitting football battle indeed, especially considering so many of the players went both ways in the game. Saunders passed for 207 yards, including two scores after his team was blanked in the first half, and the senior quarterback/defensive back was also involved in a number of big collisions both while running with the ball and while on defense.
After the thrilling win he told his teammates that "he loved them all" at midfield, but later appeared to collapse and was taken away in an ambulance.
Fighting Irish coach Richard Zinanni seemed a little shellshocked by the tough loss but had nothing but praise for the players on both sides.
"I was glad we were able to hit with them all night long," he said. "That was a good, old rock 'em, sock 'em game."
The Knights (4-0) played without two-way standout Khali Saunders, who was in street clothes on the sidelines while sporting his No. 13 jersey. ICCP struggled early against the Irish defense and then had three turnovers in the second half, but still managed to rally with the help of Kyle Franklin, who finished with 172 yards on the ground.
In the end the difference was the late bomb, along with a PAT attempt that bounced off the upright and kept the visitors from notching a 21st point after King's 2-yard score.
"That was a great football team (we played)," Knights coach Bill Kreft said. "It was a physical, mental-toughness game and our guys overcame a lot of adversity. All the credit goes to those kids."