LANSING | T.F. South running back Kenny Jackson lie motionless, staring at the turf as if the goal line might move back a few inches.
Jackson was stopped a few inches short of victory as he was tackled on the Rebels' two-point conversion attempt Saturday night. If Jackson had made it, the Rebels would have won and advanced to the quarterfinals. Instead, Marmion Academy came away with a 28-27 win in a Class 6A second-round game.
"There was never any doubt we would go for two," Jackson said. "We knew it was go big or go home and that's how we wanted it. I was that much (holding his thumb and finger two inches apart). I thought I would make it, but (No.) 74 (Ryan Glasgow) grabbed my left leg, he shot low and stopped me."
In a game where the Cadets (10-1) dominated the line and controlled the ball, South took advantage of turnovers and a blocked punt to stay close.
After Marmion's T.J. Lally scored his second touchdown on a 50-yard run with 3:07 left to put his team up 28-21, South drove 74 yards on 13 plays with Kevin Hallberg hitting DeAndre Thurman for a 3-yard score with 10.9 seconds left to make it 28-27. Thurman did not start because he was still nursing a sprained left ankle, but made some key catches.
"No way I was gonna sit out and let my teammates down," Thurman said. "We left it all on the field."
"We never doubted we would go for two," South coach Tom Padjen said. "With half the distance because of the (pass interference) penalty, the kids wanted to go for it too."
The loss snapped South's five-game winning streak and it was their only home loss in seven games. The Rebels (9-2) lost both of their games this year on their final offensive play. They lost at Lemont on an interception as they were going for a game-tying score.
The Rebels used two fumble recoveries to stop Marmion and set up scores. Seth Wielosinksi returned a blocked punt for a score.
Hallberg passed for 192 yards and Marlon Harris came in and threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Willie Cannon as South used some different formations and some trick plays.
"I am proud of our kids the way they never gave up tonight," Padjen said. "Marmion is a big team and a good team. We used what we had to in order to gain any advantage."
Linebacker Robert Sterling finished with eight solo tackles and seven assists. He also blocked the punt on the Wielosinski's score.
"We fought like we did all year," Sterling said. "We were a team and I think we will take away more than football. We are are real close-knit group."