INDIANAPOLIS | As football moments go, it's one that Donovan Chandler and Andrean will never forget.
With the 59ers clinging by their fingernails to a 28-27 lead over rallying Indianapolis Brebeuf in Friday's Class 3A state championship game, the Andrean senior stepped in front of an Aaron Banks pass and raced 46 yards down the Lucas Oil Stadium sideline for a touchdown.
"There was an eye-opening moment when I was like, 'I've got this,'" Chandler said. "I read the route, he broke it off to an out, I jumped it, and took it in. Touchdown. That's all I was thinking. It's one of those stories I can tell my children (some day), 'Yeah, that was me.'"
Andrean (15-0) withstood Brebeuf's last-minute march to the 59ers 20, where, on the last play of the game, a Banks throw went off the hands of a leaping Chandler Glau and fell incomplete, sealing a 35-27 victory.
"He was wide open," Andrean coach Phil Mason said. "Any time you have a great season, somewhere along the line, something like that has to happen. Somebody was looking out for us. It was a great game to cap a classic season. At this point, it doesn't matter. All you've got to do is win by one."
That kind of drama sure seemed unlikely in the first half. When Matt DeSomer, playing on an ankle that hurt much more than he would ever let on, scored on a sneak at 7:12 of the second quarter, the 59ers appeared to be on their way to yet another postseason blowout, up 21-0.
"I thought we should've been up 35-0 at the half," Mason said.
The Braves scored twice in a span of 2:17 to draw within seven, then came within a missed extra point of tying the game when LeVante' Bellamy took a Banks screen pass 34 yards for a touchdown with 3:03 left. Down one, they reached the Andrean 33 early in the fourth before a Tom Albomonte interception.
"I think we got too excited, too big-headed," DeSomer said. "We relaxed. Donovan saved us. We weren't going to let any team stop us."
DeSomer still rushed for 62 yards and threw for 137, including a sweet 43-yard TD toss to Jamie Johnson, but it was Trevor Berg who did most of the heavy lifting for Andrean. Berg rushed for 165 yards and two scores on 24 carries until an injury sidelined him on the 59ers' final drive, an eight-plus-minute clock killer that ended on a narrow misfire from DeSomer to Tyler Petkovich at the Brebeuf 6.
"We put our defense in such a bind," Braves coach Mic Roessler said. "They did the best they could given what (DeSomer) is able to do. He's a phenomenal athlete, one of the best we've seen. It's hard to stop, with as many attributes as the kid had. They've got so many different weapons."
In a game that broke the 3A state championship record for total yards (815), Banks set the individual record for passing yards with 268.
"We were just trying to keep them in front of us, make a tackle and live for another day," Chandler said. "We kept saying, 'We've got to get a stop here, make a play,' and we finally did."