Lincoln-Way East denies Batavia in closing seconds
Batavia went for the win.
Lincoln-Way East stuffed it.
Bulldogs quarterback Ryan Boe just scored a gutsy 1-yard touchdown to pull the Bulldogs within 14-13 with eight seconds remaining. The situation next at hand: Go for a win on a successful two-point conversion or tie to live for overtime.
The Bulldogs didn't blink leaving the ball in their top player's hand.
On the two-point conversion try, Boe ran a stretch running play to his right -- a design that had worked consistently all night. Lincoln-Way East senior cornerback Jashawn Echols and a host of Griffins converged to stuff it and soon prevailed 14-13 on Friday in a week two classic in Batavia.
An ensuing onside kick try was recovered by Lincoln-Way East's Zion Gist, and the Griffins knelt down to clinch it.
"In the [defensive] huddle coaches were telling us: 'We live for this moment. We always live for these moments. When the pressure is hard, that's when we thrive," Echols said. "The quarterback has been running on us all game. We kind of knew it was coming, so as soon as the motion came, I just came up and made the tackle. We just thrive in those moments."
The plan on the two-point try, for Batavia's side of it, was to "give it to our guy [Boe]".
"He wanted it," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "I said 'what do you guys think?' and they said, 'Let's just win it.' I go, 'Fine.' I'll be honest: I've been a conservative overtime guy. I really like playing the overtime game and mess around with it, but I don't know, this is week two. Kids wanted it. Everyone was kind of sore and tired. It just felt like the right thing ... I was looking [on the sideline] they go 'Let's go'."
Boe was 15 for 20 with 155 passing yards, 91 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Tischer was 14 for 23 with 234 passing yards and two touchdowns. Griffins senior wideout Ryan Usher had seven catches for 72 yards.
Batavia (1-1) and Lincoln-Way East (2-0) were knotted 7-7 at the half in a spirited effort.
The Griffins opened with a 58-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Braden Tischer to wideout Cade Serauskis for the initial 7-0 lead. Batavia responded with a promising drive that resulted with a fumble at the goal line. The Griffins later attempted a 31-yard field goal with senior Robert Mensching, but the attempt hit the goalpost, no good.
After trading punts, Batavia scored their touchdown on an eventual 1-yard Boe rushing score with 1:13 left in the half on a drive that was aided by two defensive pass interference penalties by LWE.
The Griffins rolled down the field, but the 22-yard field goal attempt at the halftime buzzer was blocked by Bulldogs senior Ben Fiegel.
No team scored in the third quarter. On the Bulldogs' drive that extended into the fourth quarter, Boe was sandwiched on a pass attempt to force fourth down. Charlie Whelpley ripped off a surprising 25-yard fake punt conversion that extended the drive, which eventually stalled.
The Griffins cashed in on a nine-play drive that culminated on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Tischer to DJ Richardson with 6:11 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Batavia battled through a 13-play drive to the final seconds on Boe's second rushing score to set the stage for the thrilling finish.
Whelpley finished with six catches for 55 yards to lead the Bulldogs.
"I would've done the same thing [go for two]. They're at home, just drove the length of the field, had us on our heels," Griffins coach Rob Zvonar said. "[Boe] is as good as I've been around. I think [Tischer] and their kid are the same, but that one is 6-3, 220. He's plowing us all night ... so much respect for the quarterback, coach Piron and their entire program."
"This was just a special night of high school football. I'm not a Catholic League Basher, but this was public school football the way I think it was meant to be," Zvonar continued.
"It was a beautiful setting in Batavia and it was just two heavyweights going at it all night; ups and downs for both sides. Every unit had their bad things happen ... one of the best -- not maybe fun in the moment -- but now, looking back on it, one of the best character-building games I've been a part of in 30 years ..."