The Wolverines picked up their second consecutive Angelus League victory, defeating St. Francis 27-21 on a last-second pass from Noah Rothman ’16 to Alex Barnum ’16.
“We haven’t won at St. Francis in decades, and they were 15th in the state at one point last year, so to give them their second league loss and for us to pick up our second league win sets us up really well down the stretch,” Captain Mike Mapes ’16 said.
Last week, the Wolverines opened league play with a 28-21 victory against St. Paul, which included Harvard-Westlake scoring 28 unanswered points in the final eight minutes of the game.
From the beginning of this game, the Golden Knights got out to an early lead, ending with a 37-yard touchdown pass from Miles Bryant ’17 to former Loyola quarterback Trey Polamalu ’16.
The Wolverines first possession was inconsequential, punting the ball back to St. Francis after being unable to pick up a first down.
The Knights got all the way down to the eight yard line, but were unable to score, after a holding penalty negated a touchdown. St. Francis attempted a field goal, however Matt Bazarevitsch ’17 missed.
Once the Wolverines got the ball back, Rothman promptly fumbled, which was recovered by Polamalu at the Harvard-Westlake 17-yard line.
On the next play, Bryant threw a touchdown pass to put the Golden Knights up 14-0.
Next, the Wolverines relied on Phil Thompson ’16 to carry the ball into Knights’ territory, and with the aid of a penalty, Rothman scampered in from the three-yard line to put the Wolverines on the board. The Wolverines trailed 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.
After neither team could string together a drive on their first possessions of the second quarter, the Golden Knights were able to move the ball all the way down to the Harvard-Westlake 25. However, Thomas Glover ’18 intercepted a pass, and ran all the way down to the St. Francis 35 yard-line, but a penalty on the Wolverines let them keep the ball, but they had to start on their own 25.
Neither team was able to do a lot with the ball the rest of the half, and the score was kept at 14-7 St. Francis at halftime.
However, on the first play of the second half, Rothman threw a 95-yard touchdown pass to Barnum to even up the game at 14.
The Golden Knights’ first drive of the half, was stopped short because of a Dietrich Tribull ’16 sack, and they had to punt the ball back to the Wolverines.
The story of the next drive had nothing to do with football. Captain Eric Bradley ’16 had to be helped off the field on a stretcher. With approximately 40 people surrounding him, Bradley luckily was not severely injured and was able to walk around the sidelines and be with his teammates for the remainder of the game.
Each team had a couple of possessions before the end of the third quarter, but the score was still knotted up at 14 heading into the final period.
On the Wolverines first drive of the fourth quarter, the squad was forced to punt, and after a bad snap, Rothman had to fall on the ball, causing the Knights to start with the ball on the Wolverines’ 20 yard-line.
The Knights scored on that drive and took a 21-14 lead with 7:44 left in the game. But this one was far from over.
On the ensuing drive, the Wolverines drove down into St. Francis territory, but had to punt with 5:43 left.
On the Knights first play of the drive, Barnum recovered a fumble at the four-yard line and Thompson ended up punching it in for a touchdown to tie the game at 21.
After forcing another three and out from the Knights, Harvard-Westlake started on their own 35 with 3:48 remaining.
The Wolverines gave the ball right back to the Knights by punting it down to the 21 with 2:36 left.
Cameron Welther ’17, Nick O’Brien ’17 and Ben Cooper ’16 had three consecutive sacks to make the Golden Knights kick the ball back to the Wolverines with 15 seconds left.
The Knighs punt coverage purposely didn’t touch the ball and dropped the clock all the way down to 1.3 seconds on their own 47.
And then chaos occurred.
Rothman threw a pass to the left side of the end zone, which was intended for Cameron Jones ’18, but was tipped by two St. Francis defenders and was caught by Barnum who waltzed into the end zone to give the Wolverines a 27-21 upset win over the defending Angelus League champions.
“You always see these hail mary plays and most of the time they are either thrown short or tipped,” Barnum said. “I figured it was going to be tipped, and I just managed to be behind it and the good thing is that we got another win in league.”
Harvard-Westlake is now 5-2 overall and 2-0 in the Angelus League. The team’s next game is Oct. 24 against La Salle High School at 7:30 p.m.
“This win means a lot for us,” Rothman said. “Our confidence is definitely increasing and we are excited to continue playing at this level.”
You can view the final play of the game on Harvard-Westlake Athletics Twitter.
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