MADISON — It was a game that will be talked about for years to come.
No. 1 Hand coming in unbeaten since Week 2 of the 2017 season against Shelton, the team that beat them on that September night.
The game lived up to the hype and then some, coming down to the wire.
Hand’s Colin McCabe scored on a 7-yard run with 18 seconds left to lift the Tigers to a 21-14 win over Shelton.
“I’m not going to lie, I was cramping a little bit the whole game,” McCabe said. “It was annoying me a lot, but I was so excited when everyone swarmed me. I was a great feeling for the whole team.”
While the Hand fans rushed the field to celebrate the win, Shelton players were kneeling on the field in shock, some were emotional after the game.
“It was one hell of a high school football game. It was a great game,” Shelton coach Jeff Roy said. “We battled, they battled, both teams laid it all out on the field. It doesn’t get any better than that on a Friday night.
“I would have loved to come out the winner, but give them credit, they made the plays at the end and it was a great high school football game.”
Shelton scored on a Tyler Pjatak two-yard run with 1:49 left in the game and then Hand returned the ensuing pooched kickoff to their own 45-yard line.
Hand quarterback Phoenix Billings led his team, with his legs and his arm, down the field in 1:31 to win the game.
No bigger play, other than McCabe’s touchdown, was Billings’ quick pass to Isaiah McNeilly.
McNeilly caught the pass and then was stripped of the ball, the ball bounced right into the arms of Hand sophomore Seth Sweitzer, keeping the drive alive.
A couple of plays later, McCabe was in the end zone.
“One bounce, that’s what I told the kids,” Roy said. “The ball bounces the other way there and we’re the one’s celebrating.”
Shelton’s defense kept the Hand offense off the board for the entire first half leading 7-6. Hand’s only touchdown came on a Colin Telford interception return in the second quarter.
Hand took the lead in the third on a McNeilly 13-yard touchdown catch.
After McCabe’s touchdown, Shelton moved the ball down the field and was on the Hand 27-yard line with one second left on the clock.
The last second throw to the end zone was picked off by Ethan Haberman.
“I think we talk about it all the time, amongst each other, we would love to have a game like this and we had a game like this, obviously tonight, a close game, a dog fight,” McCabe said. “Shelton was a great team. We have a lot of respect for that team.
“They hit us the whole night, they didn’t back down, like many other teams have done. We were just excited at halftime, we were excited to get after it and accept the challenge.”