Blake Acres is the hero Carlton has been waiting two decades for, sending the Blues through to their first Preliminary Final since 2000 with the final goal of an epic Semi Final win against Melbourne.
The loudest roar made by some 96,492 fans to be heard in some years was saved for Acres' pack mark and subsequent goal in the final minute as he lifted the Blues to a two-point win.
A scoreline of 11.7 (73) to 9.17 (71) has a million storylines to it. But Melbourne’s wastefulness will again be front and centre as the Blues advanced to a Preliminary Final against Brisbane.
The Demons had eight more scoring shots, 24-16, but in the story of their season weren't effective enough ahead of the footy, particularly when the whips were cracking.
Melbourne kicked 2.6 in the final term to Carlton’s 4.2. For the second straight year, they depart September in straight sets.
Clayton Oliver almost sealed the game with a touched ball on the goalline late in the contest, while Kysaiah Pickett hit the post, as did captain Max Gawn.
But Jesse Motlop and Blake Acres will be up for hours remembering their final quarter goals – the last two of the game – that means everything to the Carlton Football Club.
In front of 96,492 fans - a crowd figure that sees the MCG break its record for most attendance in a season – one of the most intense Semi Finals the home of football has ever seen played out.
After last week’s slow start against Collingwood, Simon Goodwin’s Demons weren’t going to make the same mistake again.
For much of the first term, it was Melbourne’s forward line that was open and dynamic as the home side capitalized with the first three goals.
Steven May and Jake Lever had it locked up down the other end. Despite more inside 50s to the Blues at the first break, the Demons had the advantage on the scoreboard.
“Lever's confidence is sky high. The combination of him and May has been brilliant in this first quarter,” Brad Johnson remarked in commentary for AFL Nation.
The Demons defensive duo were the best backmen on the ground and smothered Coleman Medallist Charlie Curnow.
Carlton got into the game in the second term and then on the scoreboard on the back of Tom De Koning getting into the clash.
The Blues ruckman came to the fore in the biggest game of his career, eventually finishing with 15 disposals, four marks and 12 hitouts.
“He’s playing the game of his life at the moment,” Dwayne Russell exclaimed in the second term on De Koning.
Michael Voss’ men were further spurred on by some tough performances from their leaders. Cripps was as influential as ever despite several big hits, Weitering played through what looked to be a fractured hand and Sam Docherty – who suffered a dislocated left shoulder late in the second term – ran back out after half-time.
And yet again, a set of fingernails proved the saviour. This time, in the second term, they belonged to Brodie Kemp, who was able to overturn an Alex Neal-Bullen goal that would have seen the Dees take the lead.
A scrappy third term ensued as Melbourne took back the lead, before one of the all-time final terms saw Carlton prevail.
But September gets no easier for Michael Voss’ men. A clash against Brisbane at the Gabba – where the Lions are yet to lose yet – awaits next weekend in a mouth-watering Preliminary Final. Harry McKay and Jack Martin are set to return.
Chris Fagan himself was watching on at the MCG as his side awaits its biggest test of the year.
Melbourne: 3.3, 4.7, 7.11, 9.17 (71)
Carlton: 2.2, 5.3, 7.5, 11.7 (73)
Melbourne: Smith 3, Pickett 2, Petracca, Fritsch, Langdon
Carlton: De Koning 2, Walsh 2, Acres 2, Motlop 2, Curnow, Owies Kennedy
Melbourne: May, Oliver, Lever, Pickett, Viney
Carlton: Walsh, Newman, Weitering, De Koning, Cripps
Carlton: Docherty (shoulder), Weitering (hand)