Downingtown West's run in the PIAA District 1 Class 6A playoffs — and its 2018 season — appeared to be winding to a disappointing close.
The No. 4-seeded Whippets trailed No. 5 Harry S Truman by 14-0 going into the fourth quarter of Friday night's quarterfinal, but rallied for an improbable, 24-22 victory at cold and windswept Kottmeyer Stadium.
The difference was Dan Byrnes' 39-field field goal, his first of the season, with three seconds to play.
"Everything went right on the play," Byrnes said. "It was a perfect snap, the holder lined the ball up well, and all I had to do was kick it through the uprights."
Truman dominated the first half, thriving with its run-happy attack and keeping the ball away from the hosts.
"It was definitely frustrating, but we came up with two big stops before halftime to give us some momentum coming out of the locker room," Byrnes said.
Downingtown West scored 21 unanswered points, including Byrnes' 51-yard touchdown grab off a deflection, to take the lead.
The visiting Tigers cut the deficit to 21-20 with 30 seconds to play on Owen Paulson's 30-yard run. They went for a two-point conversion, and Paulson hauled in a pass from Dylan Snelling.
Byrnes' field goal was set up by quarterback Ryan Wetzel's 31-yard pass to Jackson Luneberg.
Downingtown West (11-1) will take on No. 1 seed North Penn (12-0) in a semifinal on Friday night. The survivor will take on either No. 3 Garnet (12-0) Valley or No. 2 Coatesville (12-0) for the district title.
Byrnes, a third-year varsity member, has been a key contributor for the Whippets as a wide receiver, free safety, kick returner, and kicker.
The 6-foot, 185-pound senior has made 40 catches for 742 yards and nine touchdowns.
Wetzel has performed well at QB since junior starter Will Howard went down with a hand injury late in the first half of a 42-14 division loss to undefeated Coatesville on Oct. 5.
"He's done a phenomenal job," Byrnes said of the converted tight end. "He consistently makes good plays."
Byrnes missed most of his sophomore season after suffering a broken femur and torn medial collateral ligament in a 42-41, season-opening loss to Perkiomen Valley.
Byrnes, who made a first-half interception against Truman, has drawn recruiting interest from Lafayette, Marist, and Penn. The 18-year-old plans to major in biology in college.
District 1 Class 6A
No. 4 seed Downingtown West at No. 1 North Penn, 7 p.m.
No. 3 Garnet Valley at No. 2 Coatesville, 7 p.m.
District 1 Class 5A
No. 5 West Chester Rustin at No. 1 Penn Wood, 7 p.m.
No. 11 Unionville at No. 2 Upper Dublin, 7 p.m.
District 12 Class 4A Championship
Cardinal O'Hara vs. Imhotep Charter, at Northwest Philly Super Site, 6:30 p.m.
PIAA Class 4A
Jersey Shore vs. Pottsgrove, at Northern Lehigh, 7 p.m.
PIAA Class 3A
North Schuylkill vs. Conwell-Egan, at Lehighton, 7 p.m.
PIAA Class 2A
Dunmore vs. No. 1 West Catholic, at Northern Lehigh, 1 p.m.
District 12 Class 5A Championship
Archbishop Wood vs. Simon Gratz, at Northeast, 1 p.m.
District 12 Class 6A Championship