There were plenty of tears on the Elk Grove sideline after its Mid-Suburban East football game at Prospect's George Gattas Memorial Stadium Thursday.
They were tears of joy.
Dejan Basara, recovering from a broken collarbone and cleared to play in a non-contact role by the doctors on Wednesday, drilled a 38-yard field goal with 1:19 remaining in the fourth quarter, giving the Grens a 24-21 victory.
But the defense had to survive a desperate drive that took the Knights (3-4, 2-1) from their own 32 to the Elk Grove 8 before time ran out, leaving the Grens (6-1, 3-0) alone at the top of the East.
A short punt gave Elk Grove possession at the Prospect 35 with 3:13 left remaining, and the Grens methodically moved into field goal range, while Prospect used its timeouts to preserve the clock for its last shot.
Basara's kick easily had the distance, leaving it up to the defense to hold on for the win.
"I didn't want to make it bigger than it was," Basara said. "I made a lot of them in practice.
"I got cleared (Wednesday). It was my only practice. I got in at least 20 kicks. I'll be ready when they clear me for contact. It feels great to be back."
"I had to make a decision," Elk Grove coach Brian Doll said. "He was cleared by the doctor and trainer, but I had to feel comfortable putting him in there.
"When he came out to practice, the team went nuts."
Stefan Skoneczka (19 carries for 78 yards and 7 catches for 52 yards) twice scored touchdowns that brought the Grens from behind to either tie or lead. His 2-yard run with 7:09 left in the second quarter gave them a 14-13 lead, and his 21-yard run with 6:09 left in the third quarter tied the game at 21-21.
He and Darren Little (17 carries, 77 yards) gave Elk Grove a 1-2 punch, combining for 155 of its 173 rushing yards.
"I'm so proud of my guys," said an emotional Skoneczka. "These are tears of joy. This team is unbelievable. We're so close.
"The O-line (Kevin O'Malley, Dan Egan, Martin Diaz, Brian Mack and Greg Johnsen) knows their job, and I trust them. They do the hard job of opening the holes, and I have the easy job of running through.
"I'd never beaten Prospect in my high school career."
Sophomore quarterback Adam O'Malley (16-of-22 for 160 yards), making his third start in place of Basara, put Elk Grove on the board first with a 22-yard pass to Jeff Miceli, ending a 63-yard, 12-play opening drive with 6:13 left in the first quarter.
Prospect went ahead 13-7 on quarterback Sam Frasco's scoring runs of 35 and 40 yards. Frasco put the Knights on top 21-14 when he completed a 3-yard pass to Shane Joyce with 12.7 seconds left in the first half and hit Devin O'Hara for a 2-point conversion.
Elk Grove's defense forced four consecutive three-and-outs in the second half and limited the Knights to 69 yards in the second half. Frasco led Prospect with 129 rushing yards on 18 carries but was held to 8 yards on 7 second-half attempts.
"Our defense kept us in the game," Prospect coach Mike Sebestyen said. "The effort was there. That last drive shows what kind of drive we have.
"We're fighting for our (playoff) lives. We've got to get Rolling Meadows next week."