Like everyone on the Lake Zurich side of the ball, Bears senior defensive back Grant Soucy was thrilled to see Dominic Mcneil race for an apparent touchdown to open the third quarter Saturday at Glenbard South High School.
And then there was a whistle on the field.
"It was heartbreaking,'' Soucy said. "Things didn't go our way."
Lake Zurich (10-3) fell behind 19-0 at halftime to unbeaten Glenbard West in this Class 7A semifinal game. And then Mcneil's play was called back.
Five plays later, it was Soucy's turn to race into the end zone. And this time, no whistles were blown. Glenbard West was just about to put this game to sleep standing all of seven yards away from another touchdown.
"My teammates did a good job getting the ball loose,'' Soucy said of his fumble recovery. "I just picked it up and had a caravan of teammates on the way to the end zone."
Soucy's 92-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown stopped the bleeding. Lake Zurich dominated second half play but fell short of a bid for a state title berth with this 19-13 loss. And when football season finally concluded Soucy and others reflected on what kind of a campaign they actually had.
"These guys are my family,'' he said. "This is my brotherhood. These relationships will last a lifetime."
What was not expected was how quickly the powerful Lake Zurich defense fell behind. Glenbard West (13-0) scored on the game's second play from scrimmage on a pass play that measured 74 yards. It was 13-0 deficit with seven minutes to play in opening quarter.
"We just couldn't have a start like that,'' Soucy said. "We started too slowly and it was too big a hole to get out of."
And when Glenbard West scored just before halftime, it looked like the Bears were done by halftime.
But this team came out in the second half and gave this unbeaten club from Glen Ellyn some late chills. Soucy's big play on the defensive end gave his club a spark.
And then another turnover helped the visitor's cause. Senior linebacker Tanner Kiser fell on fumble at midfield and the Lake Zurich offense took over from there.
Pounding running back Connor Schrader at the tiring Hilltoppers defense, the Bears march towards the end zone was methodical. The one passing play was good from shot gun quarterback Jake Stauner to Soucy. It netted 6 yards and set the Bears up with a first down at the 12-yard line.
And then things got a little odd. Lake Zurich fumbled near the goal line but an alert quarterback Noah Allgood picked up the loose ball and bulled into the end zone cutting the Glenbard West lead to just six points.
"We really showed our heart in the second half,'' Stauner said. "We were always undersized the whole year, but we never gave up. We always believed in ourselves. And that's why we got as far as we got."
With momentum clearly on Lake Zurich's side entering the final quarter, Stauner used a run and a pass play to Soucy to drive the ball towards midfield. That drive died right there.
Lake Zurich's defense, led by Robert Rossdeutcher, Matt Moon, Kiser and Moskal, shut down Glenbard North in the second half.
The Bears offense had one more chance on offense to at least tie this game up. Both quarterbacks, Allgood and Stauner, completed passes to Soucy, but the drive ended with an interception.
Soucy clearly enjoyed his final year with the Bears. He also saluted first-year head coach Dave Proffitt.
"It was an honor to play for coach Proffitt,'' Soucy said. "He was like a second father to me."