It was the moment all kickers dream about.
Two undefeated teams. Tie ballgame. Three seconds left on the clock. Time for one last play.
Bishop McGuinness junior Will Kilgallon got to live out that fantasy last week when he and his Fighting Irish teammates squared off against Guthrie in an important district game.
Like most dreams, the final moments of the game had some unusual twists and turns. After a timeout, Kilgallon trotted on the field to try and win the game with a 43-yard field goal attempt.
The snap was good. The hold was perfect. A trio of Guthrie defenders burst through the line intent on blocking the kick. Kilgallon got it away just in time. Everyone watched as the ball sailed in seemingly slow motion towards the goal posts.
No good. The kick was on target, but it came up a couple of yards short. Guthrie fans and the Bluejay sideline celebrated with excitement.
Fortunately for McGuinness, Guthrie was too aggressive in its attempt to block the kick and was assessed a personal foul for roughing the kicker. After officials marked off the 15-yard infraction, Kilgallon calmly lined up his second try, this time from 30 yards out, and split the uprights to give the Irish a thrilling 30-27 victory.
“We had confidence in him,” said McGuinness head coach Bryan Pierce. “He’s a pretty strong-willed young man. He went out there and knocked it through.”
“Once I kicked it, I kept my head down to make sure,” recalled Kilgallon, who was mobbed by teammates after the winning play. “That’s a big thing I’ve been trying to work on is keeping my head down through contact. I took a little peek after I kicked it. There was a pretty decent wind. I thought it was a little to the left and I put my head back down for about half a second and looked back up and the next thing you know it went through, and it was good. The rest is history.”
The winning kick was set up after McGuinness drove the length of the field with under a minute to play. Guthrie tied the game 27-27 with a touchdown pass with 40 seconds remaining.
“After I warmed up, I went over to the sidelines and tried to calm my heart rate down a little bit,” recalled Kilgallon prior to his first attempt. “One of my good friends, Jack Foster, came up to me and said, ‘Hey, you live and die for this moment. You’ve got this. Do your thing.’”
“I took that to heart and did what I do best,” added Kilgallon. “I went out there, said a couple of prayers, and kicked it through.”
After Guthrie narrowly missed blocking two of his punts earlier in the game, Kilgannon knew the Bluejays were going to bring the house on his game-winning field goal attempt.
“I knew it was definitely a flag,” said Kilgallon about his first attempt. “I got hit pretty hard on my plant leg. I feel like if I hadn’t gotten hit, it would have had a pretty good chance of going through. I felt like I made good enough contact to make it. When we moved up, it was a chip shot from there.”
Bishop McGuinness (6-0) puts its unbeaten record on the line Friday night when the 2nd-ranked Fighting Irish play host to #7 Carl Albert (5-2) in a key Class 5A district showdown. Cox’s YurView will televise this Ford Game of the Week live on channel 3 at 7 P.M. and streamed online.
“Carl Albert, they’re our nemesis,” claimed Pierce. “We’ve been in the state championship game four times in the last six years and gotten knocked out by Carl Albert. They know us very well and we know them very well. There’s not a lot of secrets. We just have to play the way we’re capable of, stay consistent, and get after them.”