A dramatic, come-from-behind victory was close enough to taste for the Boilermakers at home against O’Fallon.
O’Fallon snatched its first lead just more than four minutes into the contest and led by as many as 17 points, but Bradley-Bourbonnais refused to go away and even held a late lead in the fourth quarter when senior quarterback Keaton Schmidt hooked up for a dramatic, 11-yard touchdown strike with Jason Hartsfield to go up by three with around two minutes left in regulation.
The visitors committed two personal foul penalties and went offsides four separate times in the fourth quarter — including once as the Boilers lined up to punt the ball away on fourth down early in what would become their go-ahead drive. It seemed like the visiting Panthers were willing do do whatever it took to ensure a Boilermakers win.
In the end, though, they must have changed their minds. With just 50 seconds remaining in regulation, the Panthers retook the lead for good on a 41-yard deep fly from quarterback Ty Michael to receiver Jveyonne Chapel that sealed Bradley-Bourbonnais’ fate in a 40-36 loss.
“I’m real excited how our kids just kept playing. Any time you’re in a game like this that’s back and forth against a good O’Fallon team, I was proud of the way we just kept playing,” said Boilermakers coach Mike Kohl. “We have a great senior class that’s not going to give up and our schedule’s going to be like this all year long.
“Our kids know what they’re in for. It’s going to be a great football game every week and we’ve got our hands full next week as we start our conference schedule. It’s a tough loss for us, but I’m happy for the head coach for O’Fallon who got his first win with their program.”
After ending the first quarter trailing 17-0, the Boilers seemed to find their footing throughout the second quarter and into the third. With 7:40 left in the second, Schmidt found Hartsfield for a 50-yard strike that moved B-B into enemy territory for the first time. Dalton Boswell capped off the drive a few plays later by punching in a two yard touchdown to put the Boilers’ on the board.
The Panthers responded with a 23-yard field goal, but a five-yard touchdown run from Tremain Stone with a minute left in the first half and a 55-yard dash to the end zone by Schmidt with 9:29 left in the third quarter gave the Boilermakers their first lead of the evening.
Schmidt was excellent in spite of the loss. He completed 14 of his 20 pass attempts for 177 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. His lone mistake, however, proved a costly one.
Shortly after B-B seized the lead, Schmidt threw directly into coverage in the flat to his left and watched a Panthers defender intercept the pass and waltz uncontested into the end zone.
The defensive touchdown firmly placed the momentum back in O’Fallon’s favor, which resulted in another small run that put the visitors back ahead 33-21.
Bradley-Bourbonnais battled back and nearly pulled off the comeback, but the Boilers failed to come up with one last defensive stop and were forced to head home empty handed.
“I feel like we have a lot to work on, but we’re going to get a lot better as the weeks go by,” Schmidt said. “We’re going to come out and finish the season strong and continue to win games. We’ll be able to come back strong.
“No matter who we play, we’ll try our best and see what happens.”