Williamsburg senior catches touchdown 24 hours after losing mom: WATCH

‘You could see, nobody was going to catch him.’
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 11:10 PM EDT
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CLERMONT COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - A local high-school football player made one of the biggest plays of the week for his team after suffering one of the biggest losses of his life.

It’s a sight that’s all too familiar to football fans: a wide receiver streaking past a defensive back, hugging the hash marks, looking back for the ball that magically appears over his shoulder, catching it, streaking toward the goal line and then... touchdown.

It happens almost every game. But when it happened on Aug. 25 as Williamsburg played St. Bernard, it meant so much more than six on the scoreboard.

Williamsburg High School senior Bryce Lillie carried an unthinkable burden walking onto the field that Friday night. Just a day earlier, he lost his mother.

Fran Lillie was 51 years old. And because Bryce never had a father figure in life, she was the undisputed leader of his fan club in the stands.

“After every game, I usually go to the stands and tell her I love her,” Bryce confided.

That tradition may be gone, but Fran’s memory lives strong in her son—as does her indomitable spirit.

“She taught him at a very young age, to get somewhere, you have to work hard and be tough. Don’t show weakness,” said Tiffanie Peters.

Peters is the mother of Bryce’s best friend. She’d given him support for years as Fran battled the illness from which she eventually died. She was one of the first people he called afterward.

“He hadn’t cried,” she said. “He was just like, ‘Alright.’ He called me and said, ‘My mom passed away. I got this.’”

Hours later, Bryce put on the shoulder pads and buttoned his helmet strap before running out onto the field. Then, with the score tied in the second quarter of the game, coach called his number.

Bryce squared up the defensive back at the line of scrimmage... and streaked past him. He hugged the hash marks. He looked back for the football and plucked it out of the air. He streaked toward the goal line.

Sixty-six yards. Touchdown.

“That was his breaking point, of release, of... this is for my mom,” offered Tiffanie. “You could see, nobody was going to catch him.”

Bryce’s teammates met him in the end zone. He celebrated. They lifted him up. All the emotions of 24 hours—and the foregoing years—poured out.

“I’m not a guy to celebrate, but it felt special,” Bryce said. “I left myself loose and celebrated how I did.”

Williamsburg ran away with the game after that. Final score: 42-14.

“Every day, I wake up and want to do a little more than I would’ve before,” Bryce said. “I’ll go hard in football, but I’ll go a little harder than I used to go.”

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