NEW LENOX – With 2:24 remaining in Friday’s SouthWest Suburban Red battle between Lincoln-Way West and Bradley-Bourbonnais, the Boilermakers scored on a 15-yard pass from Austin Piwoni to Will Conway.
After Camron Harrell’s two-point conversion run, the Boilermakers trailed, 21-18. On the ensuing onside kick, an illegal-kick penalty gave the Boilermakers another attempt. The second kick appeared to be recovered by Bradley, but the Boilermakers were called for illegally touching the ball before it went 10 yards.
West (7-1, 5-1) received possession at the Bradley 30-yard line. With 18 seconds left, West quarterback Connor Lowman hit tight end Ben Zordani (five catches, 30 yards) from 7 yards out, and Kevin Siemeck’s fourth extra-point kick gave the Warriors a huge, 28-18 victory.
Tailback Gabe Montalvo ran for 222 yards on 34 carries and scored the first two West touchdowns. The offensive line was led by 6-foot-5, 280-pound Bryan Brokop (Nebraska recruit) and 6-7, 275 Justin Witt (N.C. State). Yet on numerous occasions, Montalvo was hit near the line of scrimmage and ripped off big gains after contact.
“Being a wrestler, I have developed a never-quit attitude on the wrestling mat,” Montalvo said. “I take that attitude onto the football field, and it helps me achieve yardage after contact. My outstanding offensive line and wide receivers blocking downfield allow me to do what I do.”
With Bradley (5-3, 3-3) leading 7-0 in the first quarter, a key play occurred. Siemeck’s punt was muffed and recovered by Joey Velasquez at the Bradley 32. On the next play, Montalvo raced 32 yards for the tying score. Then with 10:42 left in the half, Montalvo’s 14-yard touchdown run gave the Warriors a 14-7 lead.
Second-quarter interceptions by defensive backs Josh Bohne and Cameron Gavin ended Bradley possessions.
“I was not going to let them score,” said Gavin, who intercepted in the end zone. “I just took the ball away from their receiver. This was a great victory and gives us the opportunity for a share of the conference championship with a win over our rivals, Lincoln-Way North, next week.”
Lowman (11 of 16 passing, 82 yards, two touchdowns) hit fullback Tom LaBerry (four catches, 29 yards) from 5 yards out to make it a 21-10 lead with 1:34 left in the third quarter,
“This was a great victory,” Lowman said. “Our defense was great. Deven Reed was all over the field, and what a huge interception from Cam Gavin in the end zone.”
Lineman Reed led the defense with 14 tackles, including three sacks. Linebacker Trey Telez added a sack and repeatedly pressured Boilermaker quarterbacks.
“It is always a battle when we play Bradley,” West coach Dave Ernst said. “Our defense was outstanding, led by Deven Reed. Cam Gavin’s interception in the end zone was huge. And what can you say about Gabe [Montalvo]? He plays tailback with a wrestler’s mentality.
“It will be awesome next week at North that we have a chance to get a share of the conference championship. We couldn’t have asked for anything better.”