Wheaton Warrenville South can't erase last year's 4-5 season from the record books, but the Tigers have erased the doubts their subpar season caused.
WW South rallied to stun defending Class 7A champion Glenbard West 17-14 Saturday night at Red Grange Field.
Not only did the Tigers produce 14 points in the fourth quarter, they stuffed Hilltoppers quarterback Drew Vogg's sneak on fourth-and-1 at the WW South 25-yard line with 24 seconds left to capture this fierce rivalry.
"It's great to win this one to take a little bit of that pressure off the program," said WW South coach Ron Muhitch. "We talked about getting some pride back. And we knew to face the returning state champion, that's how you get it back."
Glenbard West, the No. 2 team in the Associated Press Class 7A preseason poll, seized a 14-3 lead in the first half.
The Hilltoppers went 82 yards on the game's first drive and scored on Vogg's 50-yard pass to Scott Andrews. Vogg fooled the defense with a play-action bootleg and found Andrews wide open down the left sideline.
Andrews added a 4-yard touchdown blast with 3:38 left in the first half to make it 14-3.
That's where the game stayed until the Hilltoppers roughed WW South punter Evan Jakubowski late in the third quarter.
Two plays later, on the first snap of the fourth quarter, wide receiver Keishawn Watson ran a deep post and WW South quarterback Ryan Graham hit him between two defenders for a 47-yard score.
The Tigers, ranked No. 10 in the Class 7A poll, forced a three-and-out and then marched down the field again.
Graham's 36-yard pass to Watson on third-and-7 got the Tigers into the red zone. Three consecutive blasts by tailback Isaiah Campos left the Tigers with fourth-and-goal from the 1.
Muhitch called a timeout, then called for Graham to fake the handoff and go around right tackle. Graham scored standing up with 4:59 to go.
"They kind of blitzed up the middle," Muhitch said. "I knew it was going to work as soon as I called it."
Glenbard West regained the ball at its 38-yard line with 1:39 to go. After clicking for two first downs, the Hilltoppers faced fourth-and-1 at the 26 with the clock running under 30 seconds. Stanford-bound kicker Hayden Lekacz waited for the call on the sideline.
"All the coaches wanted to kick the field goal there," said Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet.
But with no timeouts remaining and everything in "cluster mode," per Hetlet, he opted for Vogg's sneak. When the official measurement revealed Vogg to be inches shy, the Tigers went berserk.
"This sets us up for a great year," Graham said. "This is exactly the way we wanted to start. This tells us about our defense and tells us about our offense. I've been playing on varsity for a long time and this is probably the best I've ever felt."