Crazy finish as unbeaten Antioch nips Wauconda
It will be talked about, and definitely debated, for a long time.
Exactly where does Friday's Antioch-Wauconda football game rank in Antioch football lore?
"It's up there," said Antioch coach Brian Glashagel, now in his 14th year at the helm. "We've had some crazy games over the years. But people are going to talk about this one for awhile."
In a wild, dramatic finish that featured two unbeatens, Antioch made one of its biggest comebacks in recent memory and got a 28-27 Northern Lake County Conference victory over visiting Wauconda in the final seconds.
Antioch, the defending NLCC champion, moves to 4-0 on the season while Wauconda drops to 3-1.
"We've have three to four games against Lakes that have been won in the final seconds. We had a playoff game against Wauconda in 2016 where we ripped off a 90-yard run in the final seconds and got the 2-point conversion to win by one point," Glashagel said. "All great games. This one is right there with them."
Antioch was down 21-6 at halftime, with its only score coming on an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Dino Kaliakmanis. Interestingly, one of Wauconda's touchdowns up to that point was also a kickoff return for a touchdown, a 60-yarder from Vince Bennett.
Bennett (106 rushing yards) also ran for a first-half touchdown and quarterback Nick Bulgarelli (135 passing yards) passed for Wauconda's other first-half touchdown, a 27-yarder to Javerius McGuinn.
"We came out flat," Glashagel said. "We were running the ball OK, but our passing game was brutal. We couldn't catch a cold out there. And Wauconda played really really hard. This was one of the best ... no, the best, Wauconda team we've played in 13 years. They came out strong."
But then Kaliakmanis gave the Sequoits another shot in the arm and returned the opening kickoff of the second half 92 yards for a touchdown. That made the score 21-14, Wauconda.
"It was crazy," Glashagel said. "All of us coaches were talking and we've never seen the same kid return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game.
"A big special teams play like that can ignite momentum and I think that kickoff return did that for us in the second half because we started playing a lot better."
Antioch scored again on a 20-yard touchdown run by Khalil Anderson, but the Sequoits went for the 2-point conversion and did not make it, which kept Wauconda on top, 21-20.
Then, Wauconda scored again on a 36-yard interception for a touchdown by Colin Husko.
But the Bulldogs missed the extra point to go up 27-20.
Antioch then got the ball back at their own 10-yard line with about a minute left in the game.
The Sequoits were up against it, in a 3rd-and-15 situation, when quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis somehow found AJ Kutcher for a 65-yard bomb with about 40 seconds left.
After a couple of short-yardage plays, Kaliakmanis connected with Joey Neumann in the corner of the end zone on a 10-yard touchdown pass. That made the score 27-26, Wauconda.
The Sequoits decided to go for 2 points, and as he was being chased down by Wauconda linebacker JJ Jacobo, Athan Kaliakmanis threw a desperation pass to Doug Schultz with 14 seconds left, and Schultz hauled it in. That put Antioch up, 28-27.
Wauconda got the ball back with seconds remaining and tried to quickly get the ball down the field, but Antioch, which had both Kaliakmanis brothers in the defensive backfield in its special "prevent defense," sealed the game when Athan Kaliakmanis picked off a Wauconda pass.
"It was a really exciting game with a great ending," Glashagel said.
It was a tough result to swallow for Wauconda.
"Our kids are really disappointed," Wauconda coach Dave Mills said. "They're frustrated because they put their hearts and efforts on the line. I told them it's OK to be disappointed and angry through Saturday, because Sunday we need to go back to work and finish strong.
"I think a lot of people were wondering going into this game if Wauconda was for real or if we were pretenders and I think we showed that we are for real."
A-games from Anderson, AJ:
As usual, the Kaliakmanis brothers came up with multiple key plays for Antioch in its dramatic 28-27 win over Wauconda on Friday.
But senior wide receiver AJ Kutcher and junior running back Khalil Anderson also came to play.
"AJ is just a stud," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "He had eight or nine big catches for 125 yards, seven of which came in a big second half for us, and he also plays defensive back. The kid never comes off the field."
When Anderson, who scored a key touchdown for Antioch against Wauconda, got up off the field, that was a big moment too.
"Khalil made this huge catch that got everyone going," Glashagel said. "He's this little guy and he goes up and high-points this catch and gets laid out and everyone is like 'Whoa,' and he hangs on to the ball and pops back up. That was a spark moment."
Antioch's big win over Wauconda was sealed in large part by a 2-point conversion catch by Doug Schultz.
Schultz doesn't start for the Sequoits, but he gets plenty of reps.
"If this was basketball, he'd be like our sixth man," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "You just feel so good for a kid like Doug. He's another senior for us who is quietly making a difference. This kid comes to everything, he does what he is supposed to do, he's been a role player who you root for.
"For him to be the guy who caught that pass, it was almost poetic. You couldn't be happier for a kid like him to get a moment like that."