For most of the afternoon, the St. Charles Comets defense contained Country Day’s high-powered offense.
Then came the final five minutes of the game.
A one-handed grab by Country Day receiver Christian Becnel allowed the Cajuns to get out of a deep hole when pinned at their own 7-yard line midway in the fourth quarter with St. Charles leading 10-0.
Country Day concluded the drive with a 20-yard Andrew Lopez field goal to make it 10-3.
After a penalty on an on-side kick attempt, a pooch kick by the Cajuns allowed the Comets to take possession near midfield with 4:41 left in the game. With the Comets’ offense unable to move the ball, a punt gave Country Day the ball at its own 19 with 3:08 left in the contest.
On first down, Country Day quarterback Justin Ibieta, who was 20 of 26 passing for 293 yards, scrambled to his left before connecting with a wide-open C.D. Hilaire at midfield. Hilaire eventually was brought own at the Comets’ 9-yard line after a 72-yard gain.
On second-and-goal from the 6-yard line, the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Ibieta barreled in for the touchdown with 2:05 left in the game.
The Cajuns elected to go for a two-point conversion. A pass into the end zone was incomplete but St. Charles was called for pass interference.
It was the first of three penalties against the Comets on conversion attempts, ultimately leaving the Cajuns on inches away from the goal line. Ross Talbot crossed the goal line for an 11-10 Country Day lead with 2:05 left in the game.
St. Charles managed to reach the Country Day 43 with 31 seconds left in the game. Taylor Miller hauled in a pass from Comets quarterback Justin Dumas but the receiver fumbled after the reception. Becnel recovered for Country Day with 21 seconds left, handing the Comets a one-point loss.
An opening punt by Country Day (4-0) pinned St. Charles (2-2) at its own 12-yard line on the Comets’ initial possession of the game.
After a false start penalty, a 14-yard run by Joe Chiarella gave SCC some breathing room at the Comets’ 21.
Four plays later, Dumas, on his first play as quarterback, tossed to Miller down to the Cajuns’ 34.
On second and goal from the 11, Dumas and Miller hooked up again, this time for a touchdown and a 7-0 SCC lead at the 4:02 mark of the first quarter that would hold up through halftime.
Country Day gave the Comets a short field several times in the first half but St. Charles could not take advantage.
The first came on the ensuing possession after St. Charles’ touchdown. Country Day attempted a fake punt from inside its own 40-yard line. The Cajuns were stopped short, giving St. Charles the ball at the Country Day 39.
Country Day escaped damage when it forced a punt from the 41.
The next short field for St. Charles came when Country Day decided to go for it on fourth-and-6 at the SCC 35. Ibieta was sacked, giving the ball to St. Charles at the Comets’ 44.
St. Charles drove down the field, but on first-and-goal from the 5-yard line, Chiarella fumbled while getting the ball from center on a direct snap in the wildcat formation, with Dylan Simmons recovering for Country Day with 59 seconds left in the half.
The Comets extended their lead to 10-0 on St. Charles’ opening possession of the second half on a 23-yard Cameron Fabre field goal, setting the stage for Country Day’s late rally.
Dumas finished 9 of 18 passing for 140 yards and a touchdown. Miller hauled in five catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. Chiarella rushed for 70 yards on 15 carries to pace the Comets.
Of Ibieta’s 293 passing yards, large chunks came on long catches by Hilaire and Becnel. Hilaire finished with three catches for 95 yards while Becnel hauled in seven passes for 96 yards. Nick Corchiani topped the Cajuns in rushing with 53 yards. Ibieta also rushed 14 times for 47 yards.