CALUMET TWP. | Wheeler came away a winner in a Greater South Shore Conference classic, topping Calumet 23-22 with a goal line stand and 11 seconds remaining.
The Bearcats scored twice in the final 6:07, first on an Edgar Hedge 25-yard field goal and then on a Riley Smith 6-yard scamper that left 1:11 on the clock.
Calumet drove the ball 80 yards in one minute, the bulk coming on a leaping catch by Quentin Harris that put the Warriors inches from the end zone. Noah Fowler carried the ball over the threshold.
Calumet went for the conversion to win it, but Harris was stopped just inches from the goal line by Kyle Burch, and the Bearcat sideline erupted.
"I hoped (1:11) wasn't enough time," coach Tony Klimczak said. "When we were driving in for that final touchdown, I felt we had them tired, so I wanted to keep the pedal on."
Burch was Mr. Everything for Wheeler, catching two touchdown passes and making a key fourth quarter interception that set up what would be the game-winning drive.
"I just saw that ball, and I wanted it (on the interception)," Burch said. "It definitely got our guys riled up and ready to go. I was definitely a turning point."
Wheeler (4-4, 4-2 GSSC) scored first on a quick opening drive that finished with a 14-yard pass from Smith to Burch.
The Warriors (2-6, 1-5) answered later in the first quarter when Nick Fowler plunged in from a yard out. Harris's conversion run gave Calumet an 8-0 lead after the first frame.
"I'm proud of my kids. This was a great high school football game," coach Ivan Zimmer said. "We died about six inches short of the goal line, but we grew up a lot tonight."
Smith connected with Burch for a second score in the second quarter. But after the point-after attempt was blocked, the Bearcats were up 13-8.
Harris led a nearly eight-minute drive for Calumet and punctuated it with a 16-yard touchdown run as the third quarter ended. Noah Fowlers conversion run gave the Warriors a 16-13 lead with 12 minutes to play.
Zimmer wore a red sport coat Friday in memory of Vickie Rodriguez, a long-time Calumet secretary who died recently.
"She's was a sensational lady. I loved her to death," Zimmer said. "She did so many things for this school."