With 1:58 remaining in the game, Holy Cross took over on its own 25. Before taking the field Sluka, looked to the crowd and said, “I got it.” But he never entered the huddle. Despite sunny skies above, the officials sent both teams to the locker room due to impending severe weather.
“I was so confused. It wasn’t raining,” Sluka said. “We didn’t hear thunder. We could have easily finished the game out. But they thought it was best that we go inside. Everyone was really just confused as to what was going on.”
As the visitors during a three-hour weather delay, Holy Cross dealt with disadvantages. They couldn’t change out of their sweat-soaked clothes. Players sat on hard plastic chairs with the icy air conditioning blasted toward them. Staff couldn’t leave because the delay was open-ended and the game could restart at any time. Eventually, some left to restock the locker room with food and supplies for players.
The team had a few dry socks to pass around. Chesney offered Sluka the option to finish the final 2 minutes with dry feet.
“I told him I didn’t want to do anything different,” Sluka said. “We fought this battle with wet socks, and I’m leaving my wet shoes on. At this point, we’re finishing how we started it.”
As the delay wound down, Sluka and Kennedy, the offensive coordinator, discussed options to close out the game. Before the delay, Kennedy selected a play to kick off the drive. In the locker room, Sluka lobbied for a different call, one that allowed him to make a play.
“Can I just have the ball one time?” Sluka said.
“If you want it,” Kennedy responded, “I’m not going to tell you no.”
Bob Chesey message to team during lightning delay
Sluka selected an empty formation that would allow him the liberty to spark the offensive drive with his feet. BC hadn’t seen it all day. “It’s a play that’s always a good one. I was really confident,” he said.
Sluka correctly predicted the BC’s coverage out of the delay. He broke through the line and had only one player to beat.
“Every single time I cut back. But this time, I was, like, ‘No, trust the sideline. Trust the sideline. Trust the sideline.’ I cut back every time and I always get caught,” Sluka said. “ I had Jalen Coker out there [blocking] I said, ‘Trust the sideline’ The way I made the cut, I knew the sideline was going to be close, but I thought I could tiptoe it. Then I wasn’t able to.”
Sluka gained 35 yards bringing the ball to the BC 40. Only the sideline prevented him from scoring.
An oversized photo of the moment lives within the office of Kit Hughes. Holy Cross’ Associate Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics was standing at the spot where Sluka stepped out. About an inch separated Sluka’s foot from remaining inbounds and scoring. The photo shows both Hughes and Sluka with looks of disbelief.
“That’s my, ‘You’ve gotta be kidding me grin,” Hughes said as he looked at the picture, which captures just how close Holy Cross was to victory.
Two plays later, Sluka fumbled. Boston College recovered.
“I forget who I was throwing it to, but there was a defender there, so I tried to step up and make a play and just get it out of my hands,” Sluka said. “If it was incomplete I would’ve been fine just to stop the clock. But a rainy ball, it slipped out. I lost it.”
The Eagles pounced on the loose ball, and jaws dropped among the Holy Cross faithful. The phrase “Are you kidding me?” permeated the sideline.
Sluka hobbled to the sideline where senior cornerback Devin Haskins embraced him. Coker and Fuller were next. As time expired, the score read BC 31, Holy Cross 28; the game officials patted Sluka’s back. The BC coaching staff met Sluka near midfield, praising his efforts.
As the team huddled near the endzone, Haskins and sophomore defensive lineman Daniel Santiago helped Sluka. They supported him with his arms on their shoulders; the past 6 hours had drained everything from the quarterback.
“You came in here and did something nobody else in the world thought you could,” Chesney said to the team.
The words didn’t land with Sluka. Tears filled his eyes as he crouched over the “B” at midfield. Dobbs leaned in for a private meeting between team captains.