Prospect quarterback Brad Vierneisel says that things “got a little cloudy” during the biggest play of the game Thursday in Park Ridge.
Vierneisel was scrambling with no good options and then running back Gavin Flanagan popped into view.
“A kid knocked me out of bounds at the start [of the play],” Flanagan said. “I remembered coach telling me to always keep going with the play. So I made sure I got back in bounds. I saw the linebacker and he’s late coming over so I know I have to get downfield.
“And then the next thing I see is the ball coming right at me and I was like ‘oh my gosh I’m gonna score a touchdown.’ And I ran in and got a touchdown. It was really exciting.”
It was thrilling, but it only pulled the No. 12 Knights within one point of No. 8 Maine South. Vierneisel had to find some more magic on the two-point conversion.
He did, leaping into the end zone to salvage another play that didn’t quite go to plan. Prospect’s defense held off Maine South for the final 44 seconds to secure a 42-41 win.
“This is a defining moment for our program,” Vierneisel said.
The junior quarterback was 24-for-42 passing for 379 yards. He threw four touchdowns and two interceptions and rushed for a touchdown.
“With all the blood pumping my arm feels fine now but I’m sure it is going to be sore tomorrow,” Vierneisel said.
Most of Prospect’s offensive fireworks came without star receiver Frank Covey. The Northwestern recruit didn’t return after injuring his ankle on an 83-yard touchdown pass at the end of the first quarter.
“We had to come together after that,” Flanagan said. “[Sebastian Wildhard] stepped up and scored two touchdowns in a row and we thought we had them.”
Wildhart had six receptions for 103 yards and two touchdowns and Jake Parisi caught eight passes for 72 yards.
“I couldn’t be prouder of Brad and the way he led us down the field at the end of the game,” Prospect coach Dan DeBoeuf said. “He played great the whole game, especially with losing Frank in the first quarter.”
Prospect (4-0) led 34-20 at halftime. Maine South’s defense opened the scoring in the third quarter. Emmet Wolf deflected a pass into the air while pressuring Vierneisel and Brady Marques caught it and scampered 10 yards for a touchdown.
Then Maine South quarterback Jack DeFilippis led consecutive scoring drives, capping them with touchdown passes to Michael Dellumo and Evan Agosto. That turned the halftime deficit into a 41-34 lead for the Hawks.
“It came down to who would make the crucial stop and we didn’t get it at the end of the game,” Maine South coach Dave Inserra said. “Credit to our guys. We were down 14 at half and didn’t stop.”
DeFilippis was 17-for-36 passing for 175 yards and three touchdowns. Dellumo had 22 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown.
Prospect fans stormed the field after the victory. The Knights, a Class 7A school, have a proud football history, but it was a statement win.
“Maine South is a great team with great players all around,” Flanagan said. “It means so much to us that we are finally up there and we can compete with the best.”