Tim Lins forced a smile. The wear and tear was evident in the wrinkles around his eyes.
Wrinkles that might not have been there eight days ago.
Friday night before a capacity crowd that spent most of the game standing, Crespi High again played the role of the Cardiac Kids and lived to talk about it.
Talk in a relieved, thankful, almost religious tone.
"I can't take any more of these," Lins said.
For the second time in as many weeks, Crespi held off a last-second rally to win, this time defeating host Chaminade, 28-24, in a nonleague thriller.
Similar to last week against Canyon, Crespi's defense was forced to ward off a pass into the end zone on the game's final play, which again fell incomplete.
In a game that featured 881 yards of combined offense and enough big plays to last a season, Crespi scored with 1 minute 41 seconds left on a six-yard pass from Matt Walker to sophomore receiver Wayne Emerson for a 28-24 lead.
Walker, a former defensive end making his third start at quarterback, completed 17 of 25 passes for 307 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
"This was the greatest game," Walker said. "Chaminade is a great team. We knew they'd be good."
Crespi (3-0) trailed, 24-21, after Chaminade's John Steinkamp booted a 32-yard field goal with 4:48 left. The 80-yard scoring drive that followed featured a crucial--and arguable--pass-interference call against Jung Lee, whose interception on a fourth-and-four play at the Crespi 26 was nullified.
"It was a big play, no doubt about that," Lins said. "There were some big calls both ways."
Crespi was headed one way thereafter--into the end zone. Walker hit Emerson on a perfectly thrown pass in the left corner for the go-ahead score, handing the Celts the lead for the first time.
"He's a clutch receiver," Walker said of Emerson, who caught eight passes for 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Emerson beat Justin Giovannettone on the play, but the defensive back more than held his own as an offensive threat. Giovannettone rushed for 186 yards in 23 carries and backfield mate Franklin Saunders added 111 in 14 as Chaminade (2-1) moved the ball almost at will.
Chaminade drove to the Crespi 29, but quarterback Ryan Graves' desperation heave into the end zone fell incomplete.
Crespi moved into a 21-21 tie with 10:59 left on a 10-yard, third-down reverse by receiver Eric Cuaresma. Walker hit fullback Deron McElroy with a swing pass for the two-point conversion.