Lemont kicker Joe Hehir appreciated the words of encouragement from his teammates as he was getting ready to boot a potential game-winning field goal Friday night against host Oak Forest.
Hehir, however, had no doubt whatsoever he would convert.
“My teammates were coming up to me telling me that I was going to make it,” Hehir said. “I told them to stay away from me. I know I’m going to make this.”
Hehir’s 27-yard field goal with six seconds remaining in the game broke a 14-14 tie and gave No. 5 Lemont a hard-fought 17-14 win over No. 6 Oak Forest in a South Suburban Blue thriller.
It was Hehir’s third field goal of the night, earlier converting from 36 and 33 yards.
“I’ve practiced that kick 100 times,” Hehir said. “It’s all concentration.”
The loss not only was damaging to Oak Forest in the standings (4-1, 2-1) but also from an injury standpoint.
Matt Barry, a three-year starter at fullback who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards the past two seasons, suffered a knee injury in the first quarter and didn’t return.
“We got banged up,” Oak Forest coach Brian McDonough said. “Our defense played awesome.”
The game-winning kick came about after the Bengals fumbled at the Indians 42-yard line with 2:55 left. Lemont lineman Ethan Pocic, an LSU recruit, came up with the loose ball.
Lemont (5-0, 2-0) then ran 10 plays to get into field-goal range for Hehir.
“I saw the exchange on the fumble and I pounced on it,” said Pocic, who logged double duty on both sides of the line. “No one was going to grab the ball away from me.”
Oak Forest led 7-0 on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Nick Ciufia to Kyle Hullinger with 1:52 to go in the first quarter. Hehir’s two second-quarter field goals trimmed the deficit to 7-6 at intermission.
Lemont took a 14-7 lead on a 10-yard run by Christos Giatras (27 carries, 149 yards) and 2-point conversion run by quarterback Zach Brosseau (7-of-13, 90 yards) with 7:13 left in the fourth.
The lead was short-lived. On the ensuing kickoff, Oak Forest’s Corey Brent darted 97 yards to pay dirt and Blake Waller provided the PAT kick to tie the game 14-14.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” Lemont coach Eric Michaelsen said. “We had faith in Joe to come through on that kick.”