FORT WAYNE – So much for the Great Heist II.
A year after Saint Ambrose quarterback Eric Williamson filched what seemed a certain Saint Francis’ victory with a touchdown pass and two-point conversion with 1:45 to play, the Cougars left the sequel on the cutting room floor Saturday night. Barely.
Up 10 points with 11:49 to play, they hung on to win 38-37 when Quinn Treiber’s 41-yard field goal attempt cartwheeled wide left as the clock ran out.
“Two good football teams slugging it out,” Saint Francis coach Kevin Donley said. “Told our guys it was going to be 15 rounds toe-to-toe punching to the end, and it was that way.”
It was the third straight one-point game between the No. 2 Cougars and No. 7 Fighting Bees, and in the end the Cougars got huge nights from quarterback Josh Miller and running back Antoin Campbell to get the job done. Campbell ran for a career-high 194 yards and four touchdowns on a career-high 37 carries, Miller completed 25 of 37 passes for 412 yards and a score, and the Cougars’ high-volume offense ran 94 plays and piled up 651 yards.
And still, they were hanging on for dear life at the end.
In those last 11:49, Williamson – who finished 30 of 50 for 339 yards and three scores – took the Fighting Bees on an 11-play, 45-yard drive that ended in a 38-yard Treiber field goal, then drove them 66 yards in 13 plays to narrow it to a single point on Cole Kelly’s 2-yard run with 3:37 to play.
But a wide-open Mitch Overstreet dropped Williamson’s conversion pass in the end zone, and that was the difference.
“When they’re scoring like that, you’ve got to go out and respond and put pressure on their offense,” Campbell said. “It was just about fighting adversity, coming out and playing as a team and doing it together.”
A six-play, 69-yard drive put the Fighting Bees up 14-7 at the 6:08 mark of the second, Williamson getting the touchdown. The Cougars answered with a seven-play, 73-yard drive, Campbell again doing the honors from eight yards away at the 4:09 mark.
And after the Cougars took the lead on Campbell’s 2-yard run with 24 seconds to play in the half, Williamson’s 42-yard Hail Mary to Sam O’Donnell on the last play of the half tied it again at 21-21.
The teams swapped the lead twice more in the third before Coate’s grab in the back of the end zone put the Cougars up 38-28.