DEKALB, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — The Byron Tigers went into the Class 3A state championship game anticipating a shootout and that’s exactly what they got. They came up on the short end losing to the undefeated Williamsville Bullets 46-42.
The first half resembled a video game. Byron scored the first four times it had the football on a three-yard touchdown run by Drake Snodgrass and three touchdown runs by Isaac Stickler that covered 10, 40, and 61 yards.
Unfortunately for the Tigers Williamsville with it’s spread passing offense scored the first five times it had the football in the first half. They scored on three touchdown runs and two touchdown passes by Conor McCormick. The second one came with 49 seconds remaining in the half to give Williamsville a 32-28 halftime lead.
The defenses began to figure things out in the third quarter. There was only one score. That was a six yard touchdown run by Stickler, his fourth of the game. That gave the Tigers a 35-32 lead.
With 4:34 remaining in the fourth quarter Snodgrass broke free on a 28 yard touchdown run for his second touchdown. Byron led by ten 42-32 and things were looking bright for the Tigers.
But the Bullets struck with their passing attack twice down the stretch. McCormick connected with Brendon Bishop with 3:30 to play making it 42-39 Byron.
After Williamsville’s defense held Byron, the Bullets took possession at their own 11 yard line with 2:35 remaining. McCormick quickly led them downfield with his arm, and with :30 remaining McCormick again found Bishop cutting across the back of the end zone for the game-winning touchdown making the final score Williamsville 46 Byron 42.
For the second straight year the Tigers were in the hunt for the championship right down to the final minute, and for the second straight year they settle for the runner-up trophy.
“Coach said it was going to be a shootout, so we were prepared for that,” said Stickler. “They scored, we scored. That’s just the game of football and we just had to come ready and prepared and sadly we came up short, but we played a great game.”
“Not a lot of teams can say they made it to the State Championship back-to-back,” said senior lineman Tyler Elsbury. “We lost both times, but not a lot of teams even get to play here, so it’s just a privilege to be here.”
“Down the stretch there it just didn’t quite go our way,” said Byron coach Jeff Boyer. “I’m still proud of each and every one of these kids for their effort and how hard they played tonight.”
Stickler finished with 264 yards rushing on 28 carries to go with his four touchdowns. Snodgrass had 163 yards rushing and two touchdowns. As a team Byron rushed for 449 yards.
Williamsville quarterback Conor McCormick passed for 335 yards and four touchdowns. Bishop had nine receptions for 230 yards and three touchdowns.