MIDVALE — The game more than lived up to the hype.
With an undefeated regular season and an Inter-Valley Conference South Division title on the line, Indian Valley scored on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Cade Williams to Jarrett Swinderman with no time left to pull out an incredible 45-42 win over rival Claymont at a sold-out Kelley Field on Thursday night.
The win earned the Braves (10-0) a first-round home playoff game on Friday while Claymont (8-2) was likely eliminated from the postseason.
"This was probably the best high school football game I've ever been a part of," said Indian Valley head coach Matt Lancaster. "Our kids were resilient all year and it took that same resilience tonight to get the win."
The game started with a bang for the Braves as Caden Hostetler took the opening kickoff 48 yards to the Mustangs' 40-yard line.
Indian Valley eventually reached the Claymont six-yard thanks in part to a nice 24-yard run from Zach Love, but the Mustangs held on downs to thwart the attempt to score.
After the Braves forced a Claymont punt, they promptly drove 47 yards and scored the game's first points on a Hostetler eight-yard run to take a 6-0 lead after a missed extra-point.
The drive was highlighted by runs of 20 and 19 yards from quarterback Williams.
The Indian Valley defense again forced a Mustangs punt and set up shop for its next drive at the 34, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Claymont moved the ball to midfield.
Seven plays later, Indian Valley found itself up 12-0 after scoring on a Karson Hartrick one-yard plunge with 11:56 left before the half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Claymont mishandled the ball, allowing the Braves to recover at the Mustangs' 37.
After Love scampered 20 yards on the third play of the drive, Hostetler found the endzone again from nine yards out to give the Braves an 18-0 lead after a failed two-point conversion try with 10:11 left in the half.
Desperately needing a score, the Mustangs' answered with an 11-play, 78-yard drive capped off with a Hunter Hershberger 12-yard run to pull the Mustangs within 18-7 with 5:15 left before halftime.
Claymont had a chance to score again before the half as it moved inside Braves' territory, but Indian Valley was able to force a punt and take the lead into halftime.
The fireworks were only beginning.
Claymont took the second-half kickoff and scored on a perfectly executed bubble screen that resulted in a 64-yard touchdown by Dakota Bunting and suddenly the Mustangs only trailed 18-14 with 10:37 left.
Indian Valley answered on a five-minute, 66-yard, 13-play drive capped by another Hostetler touchdown run to make the score 24-14.
Then the momentum began to change in favor of Claymont.
After the Mustangs had to punt, Indian Valley took over at its own five.
On the first play, Claymont forced a Williams fumble in the endzone, which the Mustangs recovered for a touchdown to make the score 24-21 with 3:21 left in the third quarter.
On its ensuing possession, Indian Valley fumbled again as the Mustangs recovered and set up shop at the Braves' 16.
Three plays later, Claymont took its first lead of the game on a Xavier Grant five-yard touchdown run to make the score 28-24.
Indian Valley responded and retook the lead on a Hostetler 16-yard scoring run and the Braves were on top 31-28 heading to the final quarter.
It seemed the Braves finally took control of the game for good when they scored again on another Hostetler touchdown run to give Indian Valley a 39-28 lead with 6:20 left.
However, Claymont's Marcus Vermillion took the ensuing kickoff 92 yards to paydirt to pull the Mustangs to within 39-34.
After holding the Braves on downs on the next possession, Claymont pulled off an incredible hook-and-ladder play that Grant took to the house from 77 yards out to put the Mustangs on top 42-39 with just 2:48 left.
The Mustangs seemed to have won the game on a fourth down pass that fell incomplete, however a roughing the passer penalty kept the drive alive setting up the dramatic ending that sent the Braves' faithful into a frenzy.