Batavia survives Hersey in double overtime
Tyler Jansey crashed into the end zone. His arms soon stretched high above his head before the manic scene unfolded all around him.
In double overtime and facing fourth-and-goal from the 1 -- moments after Hersey missed its second consecutive field goal in overtime -- Batavia needed its senior star to be one in a blustery, fluky spectacle on Saturday in Batavia.
The Wisconsin recruit did, crashing in from a yard out to cap off Batavia's 19-13 double overtime thriller over previously unbeaten Hersey in a Class 7A second-round game.
"I can't even describe it," Jansey said. "It's just unbelievable. Miraculous, honestly. All glory to God."
Tied at 13-13 entering the first overtime, Batavia (8-3) opted to use its offense first. After stalling its progress with a false start, Hersey was flagged for defensive holding on a Ryan Boe pass attempt on 3rd-and-goal.
Bulldogs running back Ryan Whitwell was then stuffed just short on fourth down to give Hersey (10-1) a chance for the win to prolong its first perfect season since 1975.
On 4th-and-goal at the 1, Hersey opted for a field goal try from Will Gabrione. It appeared to be at least partially blocked and hit the bottom of the cross bar to send the game to a second overtime.
There, Gabrione's second attempt sailed wide left on fourth-and-goal from the 5.
The Bulldogs rode Jansey until the end.
"They were just giving me the ball," Jansey said. "We were just running up the middle all four downs."
The Bulldogs advance to host Yorkville (10-1), who survived quadruple overtime in its 34-31 victory over Moline. The Foxes have reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 1999.
Batavia took an initial 6-0 lead in the first quarter on Whitwell's 21-yard run. The extra point was blocked. The Huskies immediately responded with a field goal to cut the deficit to 6-3. The Bulldogs punted the next possession and Hersey was again in business.
The Huskies faced 4th-and-goal with 3:34 left in the half. Following a timeout, Hersey running back Charles Meister was stuffed at the line by a host of Bulldogs.
Batavia's next possession ended in a safety after a high snap rolled into the back of the end zone for a 6-5 Batavia lead with 1:56 left in the half. The ensuing kick back to Hersey -- into the immense wind -- was able to travel at least 10 yards through the air and Batavia recovered its own kick, but was unable to get a score before the half.
On Hersey's second possession of the second half, it was able to convert a pair of fourth down conversions to extend the drive. Batavia was flagged for two defensive penalties later in the drive and Hersey finally cashed in on Carter Hansen's touchdown pass to Logan Farrell. The Huskies converted the two-point conversion for the 13-6 lead with under a minute left in the third quarter.
Batavia senior standout returner Drew Gerke then returned the ensuing kick 85 yards for a touchdown to close the third quarter at 13-13.
After a back-and-forth fourth quarter, with 44 seconds left in regulation, Batavia kicker Alec Crum initially made a 40-yard field goal. But Hersey was granted a timeout, and the re-kick was missed, sending the game to overtime.
"It was really just a crazy game," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "I mean, the wind made it that weird stuff was going to happen. They had fumbled snaps, we had fumbled snaps. You have things that thought would be normal and weren't normal. I don't know. It's just ... I don't even know what to make of it."
"Everything was out the window and it was 'just play and hope for the best,'" Piron continued. "You couldn't throw with the wind or against it. Everything was ridiculous."
Batavia was paced by Whitwell's 89 rushing yards, while Jansey had 40 rushing yards. Boe had 32 rushing yards in the low passing affair.
Hersey, while crushed leaving the field, gave everything it had.
Standout running back Brett Kersemeier finished with 45 rushing yards and 54 receiving yards. Colton Gumino was 6-for-10 passing for 88 yards. Carson Grove had three catches for 29 yards.
"Obviously, just a terrific high school football game," Hersey coach Tom Nelson said. "Obviously, conditions were a big factor. Credit to Batavia to make plays when they had to, but I'm just really proud of the grit and fight of our kids. They've done every single thing you ever ask of them. And it showed today."