Weston Cole knew what was coming.
So, from the instant the Bishop Verot offense took possession with 6:40 to play through the moment teammate Jimmy Dwyer was stopped short of a first down at the 13-yard line, the junior kicker went over the scenario in his head.
"I had to get it into my mind that it was going to come down to a kick," he said. "It was late in the fourth quarter and there was no time for us to play defense again, so once we got it into my range, I had to be ready."
Bishop Verot's Jack Kavanagh gets the interception with 25 seconds left
in the first half of play as North's Brian Boyd gets the tackle.
Fortunately for the Vikings, he was.
Cole, who said he'd made 50-yarders in practice, easily split the uprights from 30 yards with 32.4 seconds remaining, providing the decisive points in Verot's dramatic 10-9 victory over North Fort Myers Friday night on an emotional Senior Night at Mooney Field.
The win is the Vikings' fifth straight in their series with the Red Knights and the closest final score since Verot won a 31-30 decision in 2009. North's last win over the Vikings came when the teams last played three years earlier, by a 53-10 count, in 2006.
At the final whistle Friday, several Red Knights players were openly crying.
"I've been part of a lot of great wins," Verot coach Phil Dorn said, "but that might have been one of the best I've seen. I saw examples of everything we worked for since last spring. It was an outstanding job by everyone - offense, defense and special teams."
It also was a stunning turn from the way the night had initially unfolded.
North put together drives of 18, 8, 11 and 4 plays in the
first half, crossing into Vikings territory on each possession and ultimately reached halftime with gaping
advantages in total yards (172-21) and first downs (11-1).
Verot ran just 14 first-half plays - only one longer than fur yards - and punted three times before its final opportunity was cut short by the halftime whistle.
In spite of the statistical dominance, however, the score at the break was just 6-0, courtesy of Connor Black's field goals from 40 and 38 yards.
The Red Knights' other two possessions were halted on downs (at the Verot 6) and an interception (at the Vikings' 22).
Black provided what seemed a commanding 9-0 lead with a 42-yarder on the final play of the third quarter, but that score was soon answered by a suddenly awakened Vikings offense, which took over at its 44 following a short post-field goal kickoff.
Grant Suroski's circus catch of a 36-yarder from quarterback Quinn Farrell quickly moved the Vikings into their best field position of the night. Farrell connected with Steve Brown for a 17-yard TD pass three plays later to trim the deficit to two points.
The Red Knights got as far as Verot's 10 on their next possession, but a holding penalty, a dropped pass and a sack of quarterback Brandon Makar cost them 28 yards and forced a punt from the 38. The Vikings downed the kick at their 17 with the aforementioned 6:40 remaining and went 70 yards in 15 plays, aided by a North Fort Myers personal foul, to set Cole up for heroics.
Or, as far as he was concerned, just another swing of the leg.
"The only thing I'm thinking about at that moment is, just get it away fast enough," Cole said. "Honestly, after I follow through on one I don't even remember it. It just feels so natural."
The Vikings (6-3) travel to Clearwater Central Catholic next Friday for the Region 3A-3 Semifinal playoff matchup. The Red Knights are done at 3-7.
Bishop Verot 0 0 0 10 - 10
North Fort Myers 0 6 3 0 - 9
NFM - FG, Black 40
NFM - FG, Black 38
NFM - FG, Black 42
BV - Brown 17 pass from Farrell (Cole kick)
BV - FG, Cole 30