NEW LENOX — Football is a game of inches. Often, they are cruel inches.
Lincoln-Way Central is finding that out the hard way during the first half of the season.
The Knights gave up the game-tying touchdown on fourth down in the second overtime on Friday night, and when Bradley-Bourbonnais drilled the extra point--something Lincoln-Way Central couldn't do--the Knights were handed a 28-27 loss to open SouthWest Suburban Conference Red play.
It was their second overtime loss in a row.
"Quite frankly, I find it very hard-pressed to find a better 1-3 team out there in the state," Lincoln-Way Central coach Jeremy Cordell said. "Our losses have all been with the smallest, most absolute margins. In my 30-something years as a coach and a player, I've never seen anything like it."
Lincoln-Way Central (1-3, 0-1) only trailed after the final play of the game. The Knights led in the second overtime after quarterback Liam Higgins snuck in for a 1-yard touchdown. Jake Andjelic missed the extra point, but Lincoln-Way Central was in position to win when the Boilermakers (2-2, 1-0) faced 4th and 7 on their possession.
Quarterback Keaton Schmidt rolled to his left, then raced for the end zone. He was hit, the pylon went tumbling, and the referees ruled it a touchdown.
Bradley-Bourbonnais' kicker, Collyn Hopkins, who was in after first-stinger Graham Johnson was injured in the first half, made the extra point to win it.
Lincoln-Way Central lost by a touchdown to a good Richards team in Week 1, then lost in overtime to Lockport in Week 3.
Cordell feels for his players.
"My heart just goes out to our kids," Cordell said. "I thought we played really well tonight. I thought we played a 100 times better than we did last week. They bounced back after a tough loss last week and did everything that we set out to to [with] our goals for the week."
Both teams failed on their field goal tries in the first overtime, as Bradley-Bourbonnais blocked Lincoln-Way Central's try, and the Boilermakers then missed wide left.
Lincoln-Way Central took the lead just 12 seconds in when Ethan Rossow (5 carries, 94 yards) broke away for a 65-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage.
He put the Knights back on top with a 14-yard score in the second quarter, and running back Henry Woods (13 carries, 67 yards) had a 22-yard touchdown in the third quarter as the hosts went up 21-14.
Bradley-Bourbonnais was sparked by Jason Hartsfield, who had 10 catches for 181 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He also picked off a pass in the third quarter.
Boilermaker running back Tremain Stone muscled in for a 17-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, as he was held up by several Knights but then broke free.
Charlie Graefen had 5 catches for 70 yards for the Knights. Lincoln-Way Central faces Lincoln-Way West next Friday.
Cordell dismissed any idea his team will fold after such a tough start. He's also trying to keep the proper perspective.
"Nobody's happy about a loss, but life is bigger than a loss," Cordell said. "These guys are great character kids. They deserved to win tonight. And that takes nothing away from Bradley."