BYRON – As Reed-Custer head football coach Gavin Johnston stood waiting to be interviewed only a few yards away from Byron fans and players sharing hugs and congratulations Saturday, he summed up his Comets’ Class 3A quarterfinal rematch game with the Tigers.
“Wow, talk about a case of déjà vu,” he said after Byron advanced with a 32-27 victory at Everett Stine Stadium.
Reed-Custer’s season ended a year ago on a Byron touchdown pass with nine seconds left on the same field and nearly the same cold and overcast conditions.
This time, the defending 3A state champions used a 1-yard plunge by freshman fullback Caden Considine with 12 seconds left on the clock to end another record-breaking season for the Comets.
Byron (11-1) advances to another rematch, this one in the semifinals against IC Catholic, which topped Princeton 27-20 in overtime. Byron defeated the Knights 15-14 last year. Reed-Custer ends the season at 11-1.
“The last two years against Reed-Custer here ... I mean what can you say? Just two really great football games,” Byron head coach Jeff Boyer said. “We’ve had a few like today over the years that didn’t go our way, so I truly understand both sides of an outcome like this one. I feel bad for Reed-Custer because they really deserved to win this game just as much as we did.
Reed-Custer led at halftime 15-14 but trailed 25-15 halfway into the third after a 34-yard TD pass from Bryon QB Braden Smith (4-of-8 passing, 112 yards) to Ashton Henkel (4 catches, 112 yards) and a 42-yard field goal by Nick Drake.
The Comets rebounded to make it 25-21 with 49 seconds left in the third on a 2-yard run by Josh Bohac (19 carries, 115 yards), then grabbed the lead with 1:56 to go on Bohac’s 40-yard dash around right end to make it 27-25.
“I’m just so extremely proud of these kids, Johnston said. “They battled their butts off here today. We were down by 10 there midway into the third quarter and found ways to battle back and take the lead.
“We had some costly mistakes early in the game. Realistically, we could have been up 21-0 early, but a bad snap here and missed assignment there hurt us for sure. That certainly came back to bite us.”
The Tigers started the game-winning drive on their own 49, but a pass interference and then a holding penalty on R-C moved the ball to the Comets’ 26. A third down run of 7 yards by Kye Aken moved the ball to the 1, and two plays later — with no timeouts left and time running out — Considine (16 carries, 77 yards) just reached the end zone.
In the first half, R-C received an 8-yard rushing TD from Lucas Foote, as well as a 9-yard TD pass on fourth down from Jake McPherson (11-of-19 passing, 112 yards, 2 INTs) to Bradley. Byron’s score came on a 3-yard run by Smith and a Smith to Henkel 48-yard pass.
Reed-Custer held the advantage in total yards 330-271, including 218-159 on the ground.
Byron’s Jacob Ross had a pair of interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Smith noted the similarities between Saturday’s game and last year’s matchup with Reed-Custer.
“Today was just like last year’s game with them, just two really good teams just playing football,” Smith said. “I feel like both last season and here today Reed-Custer had just as much right to win the game than we did, but we were just fortunate to come out on top.
“When you get to playoffs every game is one team moving on and the other going home. Reed-Custer played a fantastic game and were just good enough today to get to play again next week.”
IHSA Class 3A Playoffs Quarterfinal
Everett Stine Stadium, Byron
Byron 32, Reed-Custer 27
Reed-Custer (11-1) 7 8 6 6 — 27
Byron (11-1) 0 14 11 7 — 32
Scoring by quarter
R-C — Lucas Foote 8 run (Brandon Moorman kick), 3:21, 7-0.
B — Braden Smith 3 run (Nick Drake kick), 10:11, 7-7.
B — Ashton Henkel 52 pass from Braden Smith (Nick Drake kick), 6:23, 7-14.
R-C — Peyton Bradley 9 pass from Jake McPherson (Josh Bohac from Jake McPherson), 2:18, 15-14.
B — Ashton Henkel 34 pass from Braden Smith (Caden Considine run), 7:52, 15-22.
B — Nick Drake 42 field goal, 5:53, 15-25.
R-C — Josh Bohac 2 run (pass failed), :49, 21-25.
R-C — Josh Bohac 40 run (kick wide right), 1:56, 27-25.
B — Caden Considine 1 run (Nick Drake kick), :12, 27-32.
Total plays 62 48
First downs 18 12
Rushes-Yards 43-220 40-159
Passing yards 112 112
Total offense 332 271
Comp-Att-Int. 11-19-2 4-8-0
Third downs 7-of-13 6-of-12
Fourth downs 1-of-2 0-of-1
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 2-1
Penalties-Yards 2-25 3-30
Punts-Avg. 2-26.5 4-25.5
Time of possession 25:14 22:46
RUSHING — Reed-Custer: Josh Bohac 19-115 (2 TD), Lucas Foote 12-57 (TD), Jake McPherson 10-32, Brandon Moorman 2-16. Byron: Caden Considine 16-77 (TD), Kye Aken 7-26, Braden Smith 9-24 (TD), Carsen Behn 4-18, Ashton Henkel 2-12, Jacob Ross 2-2.
PASSING (C-A-TD-INT-YD) — Reed-Custer: Jake McPherson 11-19-1-2-112. Byron: Braden Smith 4-8-2-0-112.
RECEIVING — Reed-Custer: Brandon Moorman 4-26, Peyton Bradley 3-28 (TD), Wesley Shats 2-42, Lucas Foote 2-16. Byron: Ashton Henkel 4-112 (2 TD).
INTERCEPTIONS — Reed-Custer: none. Byron: Jacob Ross 2.