HAVERHILL — Coach Tim O’Connor turned to the sideline and noted, “Everyone in the stadium knows where this ball is going.”
It hardly mattered. Some forces in this universe remain unstoppable.
Knotted at 23-23 with the football, first and goal at the Chelmsford 10, O’Connor took a gamble with 13 seconds left and no timeouts.
Spread the field, and throw a fade to 6-foot-3 Jordan Javier.
Covered well, the Hillie sophomore leaper went to the sky and snared Tommy Morgan’s delivery at its apex, tapping a toe in the corner of the end zone to topple the No. 16-ranked Lions for one of the biggest victories in program history, 30-23.
“Jordan Javier equals playmaker,” said Morgan, with the savvy of a three-year starter. “I saw the safety moved away, and threw it up there for him to go get it.”
Morgan’s second TD connection of the afternoon with Javier capped an amazing effort, which saw the Hillies overcome deficits of 14-0 and 20-7, only to pull even heading into the fourth, 20-20.
After a courageous defensive stand, halting Chelmsford at the Hillie 13 with 8:11 left, Haverhill unleashed the fury that is halfback Chance Brady.
Nine straight Brady bashes through the line pushed Haverhill to the Chelmsford 14. But Brady was gassed and the drive stalled, setting up Pat Yale’s 32-yard field goal that caromed home off the upright.
Chelmsford answered, though, with a similar march that ended with Charlie Calenda’s equalizer that was true from 29 with 55 seconds left.
Brady (26 carries, 202 yards) broke off a 16-yarder, and Shain Roche laid out to snag a 32-yarder down the middle from Morgan (13 of 20, 154 yards, 2 TDs).
One more 18-yard Brady chain-mover set up the first-and-goal clincher.
“So many guys stepped up and did it for this team tonight,” said Morgan. “We rode Chance’s back again, as usual. Patrick Yale stepped up and made an unbelievable kick. The defense played strong. And Jordan was just incredible.”