With his team reeling and a victory on the verge of slipping away, Huntley senior Josh Sepsey rose to the occasion Friday night.
Host Jacobs stunned the Red Raiders with a pair of touchdowns in the final 90 seconds, including a 2-yard keeper around the left side by quarterback Bret Mooney with 11 seconds left that pulled the Golden Eagles within a point.
Jacobs then elected to forego the extra-point attempt and instead go for two points and the win. Again the Eagles left the ball in Mooney’s hands, but this time Sepsey came up with the game-saving tackle at the line of scrimmage to help Huntley claim its fourth straight win with a thrilling 34-33 Fox Valley Valley victory.
“They ran the same play and I saw the fake,” Sepsey said. “(Mooney) broke out left so I just jumped it right away, dove at his legs and made the tackle.”
Sepsey’s clutch play capped a wild fourth quarter that saw the teams combine to score 34 points in the final 7:15.
Huntley (4-2, 3-0) appeared to be in control when quarterback Kam Sallee followed his blockers up the middle for a 17-yard touchdown run that put the Red Raiders ahead 34-20 with 2:07 left.
Despite having no timeouts, Jacobs (3-3, 1-2) responded by going 75 yards in seven plays as sophomore Josh Walker’s third touchdown of the night on a 1-yard plunge made it 34-27 with 1:26 remaining.
Kicker Matt Fahey then perfectly executed the ensuing onside kick as Hunter Williams recovered the ball on a bounce. Six plays later Mooney sent the Golden Eagles fans into a frenzy with his touchdown scamper, but moments later it was the Huntley faithful celebrating after the two-point conversion failed.
“We thought we could get (Mooney) out there again, but we just didn’t get it,” Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said. “We worked hard on our onside kick this week, and the kids really worked hard on everything this week. This is a tough loss. We’ve got three (games) left, so now they’re all crucial.”
Sallee completed 14-of-23 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns. Ethan Connor added 77 rushing yards and a touchdown for the Red Raiders, who led 7-6 at halftime.
Walker racked up 151 rushing yards on 13 carries in only his second varsity game for Jacobs. Mooney completed 12-of-22 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown but was intercepted twice.
One of those interceptions came at a critical point in the fourth quarter with the Golden Eagles trailing 20-13 but ready to punch in a score at the Huntley 2-yard line. Mooney looked to run around the right side on the play but at the last minute rifled a pass into the end zone and into the arms of Huntley’s Mike Andrews, who returned the interception 90 yards to set up a Red Raiders touchdown four plays later.
“That’s been our defense for this whole entire year so far,” Andrews said. “When we need to, we stop them.”
HUNTLEY 34, JACOBS 33
Huntley 7 0 13 14 – 34
Jacobs 0 6 7 20 – 33
H – Lackovic 78 pass from Sallee (Sallee kick), 1:37
J – Walker 56 run (kick failed), 11:23
J – Dziewulski 37 pass from Mooney (Fahey kick), 9:53
H – McDaniel 5 pass from Sallee (Sallee kick), 6:39
H – Connor 1 run (kick failed), 0:54
H – Scalise 4 run (Sallee kick), 7:15
J – Walker 31 run (Fahey kick), 6:18
H – Sallee 17 run (Sallee kick), 2:07
J – Walker 1 run (Fahey kick), 1:26
J – Mooney 2 run (run failed), 0:11
Team Stats J H
First downs 18 20
Comp.att.-int. 12-22-2 14-23-2
Passing yards 217 218
Rushing att.-yards 40-242 40-179
Total yards 459 397
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 9-78 12-138.5
Huntley – Connor 16-77, Sallee 18-48, Scalise 4-45, Wright 2-9.
Jacobs – Walker 13-151, Varela 17-42, Mooney 5-33, Sidor 3-13, Petrone 2-3.
Huntley – Sallee 14-23-2 218.
Jacobs – Mooney 12-22-2 217.
Huntley – Beschorner 5-99, Lackovic 3-93, Kawell 1-12, Yun 1-7, McDaniel 1-5, Connor 2-4, Scalise 1-(-2).
Jacobs – Varela 4-63, Gierlak 2-48, Dziewulski 1-37, Walker 1-37, Williams 1-22, Sidor 3-10.