Decade of delight: Incredible finishes highlight best games of 2010s

The Quincy University men’s soccer team celebrates its trip to the NCAA Division II final four in 2014 following a 3-2 victory over Fort Hays State in the national quarterfinals. | H-W File Photo
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 6, 2020 12:10 am Updated: Jan. 6, 2020 12:18 am

Here is the challenge the next decade faces: Be as entertaining as the 2010s.

From start to finish, the decade provided championship moments, record-setting performances and transcending talent. It made choosing the top moments of the past 10 years an arduous task, so I chose to pick the top five games I covered during that span. An incredible finish is important, but each of these games featured intrigue and changing storylines throughout.

The fantastic finishes simply elevated them above all others.

Enjoy the quick trip down memory lane, and hopefully the 2020s can live up to this standard for excitement.


Aug. 27, 2010 -- QND 36, Hannibal 32

QUINCY -- The moment Anthony Bruns caught the pass, Quincy Notre Dame quarterback Kramer Barnes started thinking about how he could get the Raiders into the end zone with so little time remaining.

"I thought he was going to be tackled around the 15 (yard line) and we'd have a couple plays and a just few seconds to score," Barnes said as the Raiders trailed Hannibal 32-29 with less than 20 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of the 2010 season opener. "Then all of a sudden, he made a play."

Bruns shed one tackler, stepped through another and darted into the end zone with a 44-yard touchdown catch that finished a comeback that nearly brought QND coach Bill Connell to tears and gave the top-ranked Raiders a stunning 36-32 victory.

"I'm just in disbelief," Bruns said. "I'm amazed right now."

You almost had to see it to believe it.


Nov. 23, 2014 -- QU 3,?Fort Hays State 2

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- Had the Quincy University men's soccer team not shown a flair for dramatic finishes, a sense of doubt may have overwhelmed the Hawks at halftime.

As it was, they never completely fretted, despite trailing Fort Hays State by two goals in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II national tournament.

"You've got to go out and score goals to win games," QU senior forward Jordan Roberts said. "So you may as well score three."

That's exactly what the Hawks did.

Ethan Venvertloh cut the deficit in half with a goal nine minutes into the second half, Roberts headed home the equalizer seven minutes later and Xhovani Dokaj completed the comeback when he buried a breakaway in the 82nd minute, giving Quincy a 3-2 victory at DeLoache Field on the campus of Northeastern State University and a spot in the D-II final four for the first time in program history.

"That was crazy, wasn't it?" Roberts said with a chuckle.

It was quintessential Quincy.


Nov. 6, 2015 -- QHS 3, Bartlett 2

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. -- A flick, a touch and a shot at the title.

The first two were executed so flawlessly that the Quincy High School boys soccer team earned the third.

Bradyn Nokes flicked a header into the net with just 3 minutes, 42 seconds remaining in regulation Friday night, tying Bartlett 1-1 in the Class 3A state semifinals at Hoffman Estates High School. In overtime, Riley Roth touched the ball perfectly ahead to give himself ample space to finish a breakaway with the go-ahead goal.

Roth added a penalty kick in the second overtime as Quincy finished off a 3-2 victory for a spot in the championship game for the first time in program history.

"I'm in shock right now," Roth said. "I can't believe it. Honestly, I can't. It's been a lifetime dream of mine, and for it to finally come true, I'm not going to stop. Tomorrow, it's going to be a battle, but I'm not going to stop. Not being this close."


Feb. 16, 2017 -- QU 76, Rockhurst 75

QUINCY -- Joe Tagarelli wasn't sure he could catch, dribble, spin and shoot in less than 1.8 seconds.

Three Great Lakes Valley Conference officials were unable to determine that he couldn't.

Tagarelli caught a length-of-the-floor pass from Evan McGaughey with 1.8 seconds remaining in regulation, dribbled to his left, spun back to his right and scored as the buzzer sounded to give the Quincy University men's basketball team a 76-75 victory over Rockhurst at Pepsi Arena.

However, the QU players and coaching staff and a raucous Pepsi Arena crowd had to wait nearly eight grueling minutes for the officials to review the play.

"To be honest, I really wasn't that confident on this one," said Tagarelli, the senior forward who finished with 22 points. "It could have gone either way. As (the buzzer) was sounding, the ball was coming out of my hand."

Did that happen before time expired? Did the clock start the moment Tagarelli caught the ball at the free-throw line?

That's what referees Gene Grimshaw, Terry Pollard and Dale Dunn tried to determine. There was no indisputable evidence to rule Tagarelli didn't get the shot off in time and no reason to overturn the call.


May 22, 2017 -- QU 2, Northwood 0

MIDLAND, Mich. -- As the outs dwindled but the baserunners mounted, Quincy University center fielder Dominic Miles found it impossible to stay calm.

"I couldn't stand still," Miles said. "I was pacing back and forth."

With one Cole Crawford fastball and one final out, the nerves waned and elation took over.

The Hawks made their way to the NCAA Division II World Series for the first time.

Crawford, the Hawks' closer, got Northwood pinch-hitter Brooks Ullery to pop out to third baseman T.J. Tamaccio with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, preserving a 2-0 victory Monday afternoon in the Midwest Regional championship game at Gerace Stadium.

QU coach Josh Rabe took three previous teams to the regional, and he played on the 1999 team that lost in the regional final.

"I've been so close to the World Series as a player and a coach," he said. "That ball went up, T.J. caught it, and I just dropped my head. (QU pitching coach) Matt Stembridge was right there. We stood up and had a big hug, and he said, ‘We did it.' And I said, ‘I can't believe it.'"

Holding the regional championship trophy made it more fathomable.

"It's finally ours," Rabe said. "It's ours."