BRADLEY — If statisticians were too have put a probability on Bradley-Bourbonnais’ chances of winnings its Homecoming matchup against Andrew with a minute remaining, that probability would have been as close to 100 percent as possible.
But then the impossible happened.
After a pair of miraculous catches by Thunderbolt receivers put them at the Boilers’ one-yard line with just a handful of seconds left on the clock, Andrew quarterback Trevor Griffin faked a spike, which would have stopped the clock, before he snuck in from that final yard to put the Thunderbolts ahead 14-10, the game’s eventual final.
The Boilers fell to 2-4 and 1-3 in the SouthWest Suburban Conference, and Andrew improved to 5-1 (3-1).
“We’ve been on the other side, winning at the last second in double overtime (at Lincoln-Way Central), we were on the other side against Rock Island in week 1,” Boilers coach Mike Kohl said. “We’ve played a lot of close football games and our seniors aren’t going to forget games like this, but this is a tough one for our kids, losing on the last second like that.”
Defense was the name of the game Friday, as both teams’ units were stout against run-heavy approaches from the opposing offenses. By the time the first half came and went, neither team was able to put a single point on the board.
Kohl credited the interior of his defensive line for the Boilers’ defensive effort, led by the junior duo of Hollist Daniels and Lorenzo Burns.
“Hollist and Lorenzo, our junior defensive tackle and nose guard, really controlled the interior and their fullback,” Kohl said. “I was proud of the guys and how we played defensively.”
Offensively, the Boilers finally got a spark on the third play of the second half, when Keaton Schmidt kept the ball on a fake handoff and sprinted 73 yards untouched for a Boilers touchdown, the first scoring of the game.
“He’s playing both ways and didn’t come off the field in the second half,” Kohl said of his senior signal-caller and safety. “I was really proud of the way he led us and made a huge run, and the offensive line did a great job blocking for him.”
After the two teams traded punts, the Thunderbolts struck when Griffin and John Bickel hooked up for a nine-yard score five seconds into the fourth quarter to tie the game at 7.
The two teams then again exchanged punts, a common theme on the night, before the Boilers took over on their own 38-yard line with 7:28 to play. They managed the clock brilliantly and with 1:16 to play, Collyn Hopkins was true on a 41-yard field goal to make it a 10-7 game.
Hopkins, who also plays soccer for the school, made it back in time from a tournament in Iowa to play Friday, something Kohl couldn’t have been more grateful for.
“A lot of people don’t know that (Hopkins) drove four hours from Iowa, where (the soccer team) is playing a tournament, and came back to make a huge kick for us,” Kohl said. “People will never forget that kick — I know I won’t.”
Hopkins then proceeded to boot the kickoff through the endzone and the Thunderbolts, who had just 27 passing yards at that point, set up shop at their own 20-yard line, with both time and the odds stacked against them.
After a C.J. Dunn sack on the first play of the drive, the Thunderbolts gained the five yards they had lost on a Griffin pass to Nivek Wilson. As both teams scrambled to get to their positions before the next play, a Boilers defender and Thunderbolts player seemed to have an inadvertent collision, which was flagged as a Boilers personal foul, which moved Andrew up to their own 35-yard line.
And that’s when the unpredictable happened. Griffin threw a pass that initially looked as if it was going to be intercepted by Daniel Schultz, but while Schultz and Bickel went to the ground, Bickel was somehow able to gain control of the ball for a 26-yard completion.
On the following play, Griffin found fullback Rocco Iannontone on an improbable 38-yard connection that put the ‘Bolts down just outside the one-yard line and four seconds on the clock.
With everyone in attendence expecting an Andrew spike to stop the clock and set up the final play, Griffin immediately took the snap, faked a spike and rolled into the endzone to put the Thunderbolts ahead 14-7 left with three seconds remaining in the most unlikely of fashions.
“I felt pretty good about it after we kicked the ball through the endzone and they had to go 80 yards with 1:20 left and one timeout,” Kohl said. “I felt really good about our defense making plays, but (the Thunderbolts) made big plays when they had to.”
Schmidt’s 73-yard score accounted for nearly half of the Boilers 149 yards on the night. Schmidt had 86 of those yards on the ground and another 23 through the air. Schultz had 12 carries for 30 yards. Iverson Anderson had two catches for 17 yards.
The Boilers will head to Palos Hills Friday to take on Stagg at 7 p.m.