One probably would have expected Grace King’s Wilmer Toro to go home, put an extra shine on his shoes, get his best suit ready and borrow a splash of expensive cologne.
Grace King’s homecoming dance was Saturday night, and Toro had just kicked the winning field goal in overtime to beat Lake Area Tech 19-16 at Joe Yenni Stadium.
“I’m not into school dances,” said Toro, a junior, who said he’d just go home and relax. “It felt pretty awesome for the kick to the win the game. But as far as homecoming, it was just another game to me.”
Toro’s 21-yarder ended a stalemate in which neither team scored in the fourth quarter and both alternated at seemingly being destined for a heartbreaking loss.
The field goal was the first for Toro, who played just one game last year with the team before turning his attention to his first love, soccer. The victory enabled the Fighting Irish (2-2) to match last season’s win total.
“We had some penalties, and we never should have let them get that big play at the end (of the first half), but that’s football,” Grace King coach Stuart Bott said. “We overcome and got it to overtime, and finally found a way to win it.”
With the score tied at 16, Lake Area (0-3) was on the cusp of scoring the go-ahead touchdown. Helped by Irish penalties on four consecutive plays, the Fighting Leopards drove to the Grace King 2 at 6:42 left in the game. However, backup quarterback Desmond Holden fumbled.
The ball was recovered by the Irish’s Jared Jackson, who returned the ball to the Lake Area 36.
Grace King also had a huge opportunity to go ahead after getting the ball back at its 49 with 3:20 left. On second-and-15 from the 34 with 38 seconds left, quarterback Anthony Marino passed to receiver Gregory Glass to the 20. Glass eluded three defenders but fumbled at the 10.
Miraculously, the ball rolled out of bounds at the 5.
However, on the next play, Cyron Sutton intercepted Marino’s pass in the end zone.
“We called a timeout, hopefully we could get the right blocking and get in, but it just didn’t happen,” said Bott, when asked why Toro wasn’t summoned then for a field-goal attempt.
The big play at the end of the regulation wasn’t the first in the game for Sutton, however. King led 8-0 with 3:32 left in the second quarter and had the Leopards in fourth-and-26 at the Irish 29. However, quarterback Ricky Jones found Sutton behind the secondary in the right side of the end zone and lofted a perfect spiral for the score.
Lake Area coach Derrick Lewis, a former Saints receiver, elected to go for the PAT instead of tying two points. However, King was called for roughing the kicker, and Jones then ran in the two-point conversion from inside the 2-yard line.
With 4:04 left in the third quarter, Jones struck again, throwing a 40-yard touchdown pass to Frank Jorden that gave the Leopards their first lead, 16-8.
Jones, though, had twisted his knee during the drive and didn’t return, and Holden moved from receiver to a Wildcat quarterback role.
“Jones is really the only quarterback we have,” Lewis said. “He knows the offense a lot better (than Holden). That was a big loss.”
Set up at its 45 after yet another onside kick attempt by Lake Area, the Irish marched behind sophomore running back Derrick Friloux, who carried the ball on seven of the 10 plays on the drive, gaining 44 yards. He finished with 107 yards on 27 carries.
Marino capped the drive with a 1-yard sneak on the last play of the third quarter. On the 2-point run, Dijon Jackson seemed to be stopped but kept churning and moving the pile until he reached the end zone and tied the score.
“It was their homecoming, and the Grace King kids just really wanted this game,” said Lewis, whose team was stopped inches short of the goal line when it got the ball first in overtime.
“We made too many mistakes, but they kept fighting, and my hat’s off to them.”