WAHOO — David Lilly's sneak preview wouldn't draw rave reviews, but the performance that mattered was perfect.
Lilly kicked a 29-yard field goal with four seconds left in the game to lift fifth-ranked Bishop Neumann to a 23-21 victory over top-ranked Pierce in the Class C-1 state football playoffs.
It was Lilly's first field-goal attempt of the season. In fact, the Cavaliers didn't attempt an extra-point kick on their first three touchdowns. The sneak preview kick was short, but Pierce had called a timeout, giving him a second chance.
"I heard the timeout right before the snap, so I figured I'd just get one kick in and see where I'm at," said Lilly. "I missed it right and short, so I knew I had to put a little more on it and put a better foot on the ball. I guess I did.
"I didn't expect this, not at all. I thought we'd run at least another play maybe and get it in the middle instead of on the hash mark. To have the coach have faith in me was huge."
Lilly's heroics came after Pierce marched 93 yards, using nearly six minutes, to regain a 21-20 lead. Brett Tinker dived over from the 1-yard line for the score.
On their final drive, the Cavaliers converted on third downs three times and on fourth down once. Quarterback Eli Vedral found tight end Trey Miller on the fourth-down conversion to the 24-yard line. But after another first down, Neumann coach Tim Turman called his final timeout with 10 seconds left.
"We thought about trying to run a play, or do we throw a pass? We have no timeouts left if we catch it in bounds," said Turman. "I hated to lose the game standing there with the ball on the 3-yard line. We thought that kicking was the best chance to win the game."
Pierce coach Mark Brahmer said the reason for his timeout was two-fold.
"We thought they were going to go for the six. Then, we wanted to ice the kicker," said Brahmer. "We had to call a timeout out and make sure we were lined up correctly because we've seen them fake field goals and extra points. The kid missed it when we called the timeout, but he made it when he had the shot."
Pierce took the opening kickoff and marched 64 yards for its first score, a fourth-down 20-yard pass from Freeman to Gavin Larson.
The Bluejays pounded again after forcing a Neumann punt, but then went to the air when Freeman hit Jadon Magdanz for a 6-yard score and a 14-0 lead.
Just before halftime, Pierce picked up 38 yards on four runs before Jarrett Kmiecik picked off a Bluejay pass. Neumann marched 56 yards in just 56 seconds, with Vedral hitting Kmiecik on a fourth-and-1 pass from the 16-yard line as time expired in the first half.
"He broke his collarbone on the catch, when he hit the ground," Turman said. "And he was still able to hang onto the ball.
"We talked all week, saying just give us a chance to win it in the fourth quarter. And they did."