Fittingly, in Wildcats country, Friday's SouthWest Suburban Red showdown between Thornton and Bradley-Boutbonnais featured as wild a final four minutes, 49 seconds as a football fan can imagine.
Two missed extra points, one erased by a penalty. One 78-yard drive featuring Thornton converting a fourth-and-nine and a third-and-22, ending with the Wildcats assuming a 30-23 lead with 46.6 seconds to play. The Boilermakers answering by going 57 yards in 32.1 seconds, buoyed by two Thornton pass interference penalties, to the touchdown that left them with a one-point deficit and a decision:
Kick the extra point or go for two and the win?
With the coaches in the press box screaming, "We've got to go for two," Bradley opted to trust the leg of Gavin Patterson. Patterson, who was roughed on a PAT miss with 4:49 to play and made good on the second chance to put his team up 23-22, hit the left upright.
Thornton 30, Bradley-Bourbonnais 29.
"By the grace of God," said Thornton quarterback Jo Wahn Brown.
Well, Brown had something to do with it. He connected on 10-of-16 second-half passes, two of those going for touchdowns. He hit Brian Davis with a beautiful 12-yard fade route into the end zone for Thornton's final touchdown, then hit Cavion Clanton for a two-point conversion.
Brown finished 15-of-26 for 185 yards, and scored on a one-yard run with 14.2 seconds left in the first half, capping a 66-yard drive that took a shade over two minutes.
Thornton was led on the ground by Clayton, who carried 23 times for 93 yards. Bradley Jarrod Ware gained 118 yards on 16 carries.
Thornton improved to 3-1, 2-0, while Bradley slipped to 3-1, 1-1.
"That was two good football teams going back and forth," Wildcats coach Bill Mosel said. "It was a shame somebody had to lose. I'm glad it wasn't us."
Both teams had chances.
Thornton went up on Tifonte Hunt's four-yard reception from Brown with 1:32 left in the first. Ware's 27-yard run and Patterson's kick put Bradley up 7-6, and a safety less than a minute later after a Brown fumble made 9-6. Gionte Mason, the Boilermakers' quarterback who transferred in from Mount Carmel, scored on a one-yard run to pad the advantage before Brown answered to make it 16-14 just before the half.
Thornton went ahead on a 26-yard Brown to D'Andre Fuller pass with 2:31 to play in the third, Bradley took a 23-22 lead on Patterson's makeup PAT, after scoring when Ware fumbled into the end zone and L.J. Harris recovered.