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Catch-and-run Hail Mary leads to wildest football finish of the year in Illinois

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Usually, a Hail Mary pass has to get to the end zone to be effective. That this one didn't makes it all the more remarkable.

As first brought to light by the Chicago Daily Herald and followed upon by MaxPreps and other sites, Elk Grove High (Elk Grove, Ill.) edged Rolling Meadows High (Rolling Meadows, Ill.), 34-33, after two wild and crazy plays capped a seesaw game. With Elk Grove trailing 33-26 and just enough time for one final snap, quarterback Adam O'Malley heaved a pass as far as he could get it down the right sideline.

The Elk Grove passer was gunning for wide receiver Mike Bischoff, but a breakdown in his line's pass protection meant that he had to release the ball before being completely set, and his pass was far too short.

That's when things took a very fortuitous bounce, with O'Malley's pass ricocheting off both a Rolling Meadows defensive back and Elk Grove player Alex Manahilov, who happened to be flat on the ground where the ball was coming down after its initial deflection.

If Manahilov hadn't been there, the pass would have fallen incomplete and the game would have been over. Instead, the ball took an additional twerked bounce up and traveled right into the hands of Bischoff, who brought in the pass around the 10 yard line.

At that point, he still had work to do. The wide receiver spun and sprinted toward the goal line, but was eventually met by other members of the Rolling Meadow defense. Luckily for Elk Grove fans, he had just enough body length to reach the ball out across the goal line before he was touched down, earning the touchdown that Elk Grove needed to get a chance to tie.

"He knew where I was going to be and he just threw it up," Bischoff told the Daily Herald. "The ball got tipped and ended up in my hands. I wasn't going to be stopped. I knew I was in."

If you thought the drama ended there, you're mistaken yet again. Even though all Elk Grove needed to force overtime was an extra point, they had that attempt blocked by a Rolling Meadows special teamer in a play that should have put an end to the wild rally. Instead, there was a penalty called against the Rolling Meadows defense, which gave Elk Grove a second shot, this time from even closer to the goal line.

Instead of kicking the extra point to tie, Elk Grove went for the win with gusto, converting the two-point attempt and escaping with the wildest of finales in suburban Chicago.

Quite naturally, the Rolling Meadows squad was disheartened by the loss, while their Elk Grove counterparts couldn't quite believe their luck ... twice.

"We did everything we could to lose this game," Elk Grove coach Larry Calhoun said. "But we persevered and found a way to win at the end."

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