One more stop here, or one less penalty there, and maybe the Bishop Ludden is celebrating its third consecutive trip to the Section III Class C finals.
Instead, the Gaelic Knights had to watch General Brown stage a fourth-quarter comeback Friday night at Central Square and score in the last seconds to prevail, 28-21, in the C North/West division championship game.
Robert Thomas got the Lions' winning score, on a one-yard run with 17 seconds left. Among other things, it gave GB's long-time head coach, Steve Fisher, his 250th career win, the most of any active Section III coach.
Something had to give in this highly-anticipated showdown. Both teams came in with 8-0 records, both having dominated most of its opponents - Ludden by a combined 387-100 margin, GB by an even more impressvie 398-32 margin.
They had done it in unique ways, though, as Ludden relied on the vast skill of stars John Rooney, Omar Osbourne, E.J. Beauford and Mark DeAngelis, while GB proved more methodical, grinding out drives with tailback Jared Flath at the heart of the attack.
At least in the first half, the Lions' method prevailed, as it seized a 6-0 lead in the opening period with a long drive that culminated in Flath scoring on a five-yard run.
During the second quarter, the Gaelic Knights put together its own fine march, Osbourne going the final three yards for the score as a Chris Davis extra point briefly put Ludden ahead 7-6. But GB answered with another solid drive, and Flath's one-yard touchdown run meant that the Gaelic Knights would go to halftime down 12-7.
That did not sit well - and Ludden roared out of the second-half gate, nearly taking charge.
Rooney led the Gaelic Knights on back-to-back scoring drives. Though Osbourne was struggling to find room against GB's swarming defense, he still ran three yards for at TD to put Ludden ahead again, then added a 23-yard scoring run to make it 21-12 later in the period.