It will be a play T.F. North quarterback Aaron Dunigan and his teammates will be talking about for a long time.
With 5.4 seconds left and the Meteors trailing 27-25 and the ball on the Rebels’ 42 yard line, Dunigan went back to pass against a prevent defense. With no other choice but to scramble out of heavy pressure, Dunigan took off.
He almost ran out of bounds at first but cut between two defenders and made his way to the 20, from there the rest of his teammates caught up to him like a purple swarm of bees. He got behind them and made his way inside the corner pylon for an emphatic 31-27 South Suburban Blue win.
“That was improvised,” said Dunigan (11 carries, 118 yards, 2 TDs; 10 for 17, 184 yards, 2 TDs), who was swarmed by the rest of his teammates and coaches after he scored. “I ran and saw an opening and somebody came at me full speed and I changed direction.
“This is the happiest day of my life.”
The Meteors (5-4, 3-3) entered the game with just 32 playoff points and will be a long shot to make the cut. Meanwhile, the Rebels (6-3, 4-2) very likely lost a first round home game.
“We had the ball at the 1-yard line (with 1:25 left) and all we had to do was take a knee,” T.F, South coach Tom Padjen said. “I wanted to run one more play so that’s on me, it backfired and we fumbled the ball and they went the length of the field. Dunigan made a hell of a play.”
The Meteors struck first on the opening drive behind a 5-yard TD run by Dunigan. The Rebels responded but with a little controversy afterward. Sterling Smith (21 carries, 112 yards, 2 TDs) scored on a 4-yard run and that followed with the Rebel cannon going off. T.F. North coach Rich Watson didn’t like it and ordered the cannon, which was on the visiting side as it always is, to be moved.
His complaint was based on that the Meteors were suppose to be the home team but the game had to be moved because of lighting issues. After a long delay and a volatile exchange between the two head coaches, the cannon was moved to the home side. When play resumed the Rebels executed the two-point conversion and led 8-7.
The Rebels led 21-13 at the half and held a lead the entire second half until the last play. Torian Lewis had 13 carries for 126 yards and a 33-yard TD run for the Rebels.
“This is a great feeling,” said T.F. North receiver Raymond Powell, who finished with six catches for 112 yards and two TDs. “Today is my birthday and this is the best birthday present my teammates can ever give me.”