SOUTH BEND | The only downside to Chesterton's go-ahead touchdown was the 1:45 it left on the clock for South Bend St. Joseph and senior quarterback Matthew Monserez on Friday at Father Bly Field.
"We needed to put points on the board," Trojans coach Mark Peterson said. "I would've loved to score with 5, 10 seconds left. In a perfect world, we score with one second left on the clock."
Cole Teal engineered a sharp 80-yard march, carrying the ball in from a yard out to tie the game. Nate Needham's extra point put Times No. 6 Chesterton ahead for the first time at 17-16.
After the kickoff went out of bounds, the 6-foot-6 Monserez took over, moving the Indians swiftly down the field on a series of short, quick passes. He connected with Jake Froelich on a third-and-7 down to the 1, then capped the 22-17 comeback victory himself with a sneak at 0:28.
"It's something you dream about, having the game on your shoulders, needing to make a play," Monserez said. "They knew we had to pass so they were bringing a lot of pressure. They were keeping me on my toes all night. We just had to take what the defense was giving us."
It wasn't an ideal scenario for a young Chesterton defense that had a deer-in-the-headlights look early, when Monserez and running back Tajah Smith gashed them for two scores and a 13-0.
"It was a display of his experience over our inexperience on defense," Peterson said. "Obviously, they knew we were going to get after it, and we didn't retrace and get back. I hate to continue to talk about it, but we showed our youth. At times, we looked like 10 young kids and at times we looked like mature, flourishing players."
The Trojans actually blanked St. Joe in the second half until the decisive drive. They drew within 13-7 on a 12-yard Teal pass to Colin McEuen in the second quarter and Needham knocked through a 31-yard field goal, which the Indians countered just before the half to lead 16-10.
"A lot of it was just gearing down (on defense), not running past people," Peterson said. "I can't say enough good things about Cole. (Coach) Quinn Schaffer has worked a lot with him and he's developed confidence throwing the ball."
Teal threw for 140 yards, connecting with seven receivers, while Tyler Gillespie ran for a tough 96. It wasn't enough to outlast the Indians, who racked up over 440 yards of offense.
"The two possessions at the start of the second half killed us," Peterson said. "We have to take care of the little things. We gave ourselves a chance. We're really close."