When a football team trails in the final moments of a game, more often than not it will attempt a "Hail Mary" pass in hopes of a miracle finish. More often than not it will fail.
Friday night Woodbridge trailed Osbourn Park, 15-13, with three seconds left in the game and had the ball at the Yellow Jackets' 41-yard line. Instead of throwing the ball up in the end zone and hoping for a deflection, quarterback John Milhiser threw a much shorter pattern, hoping for the miracle.
Wide receiver Todd Pallo, a 5-foot-9, 160-pound senior who had already caught six passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns, made his seventh reception at the Osbourn Park 20. If tackled, the game would have ended and the Vikings would have suffered a heartbreaking loss.
Pallo did not get tackled.
Shaking free of two tacklers, and using his great speed, he took off toward the left sideline. He cut to the end zone at the 15 and outraced three more defenders before diving in to lift Woodbridge to a stunning 19-15 victory.
"As soon as he caught the ball and broke free a little, I started following him down the field," said Milhiser. "When he got in the end zone I just couldn't believe it."
"I thought our chances, however small, were better throwing a shorter pass than tryng to get behind their defense in the end zone," said offensive Coach Jerry Williams, who called the play. "But basically it was just a prayer. But if there is still time on the clock, there's still a chance."
Woodbridge was in control of the game most of the way, building a 13-0 lead on two touchdown passes from Milhiser to Pallo.
But Osbourn Park rallied. A 12-play, 64-yard drive produced a Tony Johnson 5-yard touchdown run and a Mike Sukeena conversion, cutting Woodbridge's lead to just 13-7. With nearly eight minutes to play, the Osbourn Park defense came up with a big play. On fourth down and less than a yard to go, the Yellow Jackets blunted Milhiser's quarterback sneak for no gain and took possession at the Woodbridge 43.
With 2:17 remaining, quarterback Brian Albrecht sneaked into the end zone from one yard out to tie the game at 13. Sukeena came on to break the tie but a low snap prevented a kick. However, holder Paul Pfefferkorn picked up the ball, ran around right end and dove through two defenders at the goal line for a two-point conversion and a 15-13 lead.
Milhiser completed a 31-yard pass to Pallo, who made a spectacular diving grab at the Osbourn Park 46 with less than two minutes to play. But, when Eric Dudley intercepted Milhiser's next throw, the Vikings' comeback effort seemed over.
Woodbridge held, forcing a punting situation. But the punt never took place as a high snap forced punter Darren McBeath to run. Woodbridge swarmed him under and took possesion at the Osbourn Park 21 with 25 seconds left. A sack, a penalty and an incompletion left the Vikings at the 41 with three seconds left.
Then came the Pallo's unbelievavle play.
"That's the most unbelievable thing I've seen on a football field," said Woodbridge Coach Bill Holsclaw. "I just don't know how to describe something like that happening."