CARPENTERSVILLE — Vito Andriola's eyes began to fill with tears.
The Dundee-Crown football coach had been working to rebuild the program and he couldn't help but get emotional when his team came through in a defining moment.
With less than two minutes to play, defensive back Fabian Gutierrez intercepted Crystal Lake South quarterback Austin Rogers on a fourth and 9 play from the Chargers' 25-yard line to seal the 14-13 victory over the Gators.
Andriola was able to wipe the tears away with a swipe of his right hand before they slid down his cheeks, but it was no use. There was more to come.
When the clock expired, Andriola ran onto the field to celebrate with the team and the masses of blue and red from the student section that stormed the field.
"This is three years of work," the third-year coach said through tears and hugs from family members. "It isn't the game or the X's and O's but all of the stuff that we've done to try and change the culture of D-C.
"No one thought we could win here and we think we can."
The Chargers (3-0) matched their win total during Andriola's first two-years — a 3-15 record — in the first three games of the season and they were able to do so behind a potent rushing attack.
The run game showed up again on Friday as five ballcarriers combined for 192 yards on the ground with Caleb Parsons leading the way with 74 yards on 19 touches.
"It's really special," Parsons said. "It's nice to win and be able to contribute but for Vito, this means so much.
"He has told us all along to play with pride and he gave us confidence that we could win, and we did. This is huge."
The Gators (1-2) scored on their first offensive possession after taking the ball 80 yards in less than four minutes. Eric Landis capped the drive with a 3-yard run.
The Chargers answered right back with a 69-yard drive of their own as they ran over the Gators defense as 13 of the 14 plays were run plays. On the Chargers next offensive series, they ran down the field again for another score to take a 14-7 lead. The defense fed off the momentum and forced three straight 3-and-outs.
The D-C offensive was so effective with its run game that they kept the defense off the field, but sometimes too long.
"We can certainly run the ball," said senior defensive back Jordon Linson, who made a big tackle in the backfield the play before Rogers interception.
"We're all fired up after stops and forcing them to punt but then we watch for so long," he continued. "The huge crowd kind of gave us that energy boost and we fed off it all night."
The Gators certainly had opportunities to win, but mistakes cost them. Rogers scored on a 1-yard run near the end of the third but an illegal procedure penalty during the extra point pushed kicking unit back which resulted in a missed PAT.
The Gators drove the length of the field again on their next possession but a missed field goal halted the drive.
"We knew coming in here would be tough," South coach Chuck Ahsmann said. "We put ourselves in good situations but Vito has done a hell of a job in building those guys up and those kids believe and they got it done."