Immaculate Conception coach Chris VanDyke's prediction was right. The team controlling the football last did win.
Aurora Christian took possession at its own 20 yard-line with 2 minutes, 38 seconds left to play on Friday, trailing by a point in the title bout of the Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division.
In Lewis Stadium in Elmhurst, lit by 15 portable standards brought in for the Knights' homecoming, Aurora Christian quarterback Anthony Maddie marched his squad 80 yards to victory.
Backed up by a holding penalty to a third-and-23 with 16.4 seconds left, the Western Michigan-bound senior hit Cory Windle for a 36-yard touchdown pass for a 35-28 victory.
"We've got guys who believe in each other, who love each other, and it's great when you've got that part of the team," said Maddie, who completed 6 of 11 passes in the drive, 4 to Windle. Overall Maddie was 21 of 40 for 300 yards passing with 3 touchdowns and ran for 72 yards and 2 touchdowns.
"It makes playing out on the field so much easier," he said. "Big plays like that are able to happen just because guys are on the same wavelength. It's a beautiful thing."
Windle, a 6-foot-3 junior, caught 8 passes for 156 yards. He added an 11-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter, when both teams combined to score 36 points. IC led 14-7 at halftime.
"Coach (Don Beebe) called it twice in a row and he knew it'd work," Windle said of the game-winner, caught down the left hash mark. "Anthony put it right where he needed to, right in between the safeties. They were so wide it was easy to run it in.
"We think this will probably be the conference championship, and we won it, so we're very happy."
Aurora Christian (6-1, 4-0) finished with its handiwork, Immaculate Conception (5-2, 3-1) couldn't muster anything in the final eight seconds.
"Like I said, it was going to come down to who had the ball last and they had it last," said VanDyke, who saw two sure touchdowns slip through receivers' fingers. "We had a man slip on the last play and they threw it to the right spot and were able to score with eight seconds left. Not much else left to do."
After Windle's 11-yard touchdown grab, it appeared the hero would be Immaculate Conception tailback Dan Vatch. He and quarterback Demetrius Carr alternated plays until Vatch used lead blocks from Matt Mesnard and Joey Iavarone to score from 1 yard out for a 28-27 Knights lead.
That did not dismay the wily Beebe, whose son, Chad, and fellow receiver Grayson Roberts each returned after weeks out with collarbone injuries.
"I actually really thought that we could go down and get into at least field goal range because our offense, like theirs, is very potent. It was just a great offensive shootout in the second half," Don Beebe said.