In a defensive war, Waterloo reclaimed the lead at 6-3 on Tyson Roedl’s 37-yard field goal with 1:13 left to go in the game.
Then they watched No. 2 Highland travel 65 yards in just 43 seconds to scratch out a 10-6 victory over the 15th seed Saturday afternoon in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
On just the fifth play, Highland punctuated the lightning-quick game-winning drive with quarterback Garrett Marti rolling to his right to the middle of the field before lofting a pass back toward the visitor’s sideline to running back Brady Feldman, who broke free for a 24-yard touchdown with just 24 ticks on the game clock.
“We executed on that last drive,” Highland coach Jimmy Warnecke said. “We did a lot of that today on defense, but we didn’t do a whole lot of that today on offense...Our final drive all came down to execution. We knew they were going to go double (coverage) on Sammy (LaPorta) so we used him as a decoy, and Brady Feldman is a great back out of the backfield.”
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Warnecke said that play has been one of their better plays all year and they just needed to get the protection up front and they did.
“It was deep throwback at the sideline and it was a perfect throw and and a perfect catch, and it worked out for us this time,” he said.
While Waterloo’s season came to an end at 5-5, Highland will travel to No. 10 Metamora next week after Metamora upset No. 7 Kankakee 14-6.
For Waterloo, it was a crushing defeat after its defense was stout in holding Highland out of the end zone and never trailing until the waning seconds.
On the game’s opening possession, Waterloo turned Highland over on downs at its 3-yard line after Warnecke neglected the chip-shot field goal to go for the touchdown.
On its ensuing possession, Waterloo received a gift from Highland in the way of an offsides penalty while punting on a fourth-and-2 from its own 11. Waterloo took full advantage and marched to score the game’s only points of the first half on Roed’s 28-yard field goal with 3:42 left in the first quarter.
Highland finally tied the game up on Elliott Prott’s 35-yard field goal with only 4:43 remaining in the game.
Waterloo then reclaimed the lead on Roedl’s kick with 73 seconds to play only to have its hearts ripped out by Highland’s late heroics.
“They caught us in coverage on that last play and it’s a heartbreaker,” Waterloo coach Dan Rose said. “It was a gutsy game where our kids played hard and the Highland kids played hard. Good luck to them next week in the playoffs but it’s just a heartbreaker for us.”