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The bright lights of Friday night seemed to catch up with Hersey's football team.
Making their first postseason appearance in 10 years, the Huskies dropped a 28-6 decision to fourth-seeded Fenwick (9-1) in the first-round of the Class 7A playoffs at Elmhust College.
"We knew exactly what we were getting into tonight, we just didn't show up tonight," Huskies coach Dragan Teonic said. "We didn't prepare them well enough for this environment, this moment.
"Elmhurst College put on a classy show here and we didn't bring our part of the game. It's still football, still a 48-minute game, but there was definitely a little bit of a deer-in-the-headlights look tonight."
Hersey (6-4), the No. 13 seed, did not have an answer for Friars running back Robert Spillane in the first half. The 6-3, 220-pound back racked up 193 yards in the first 16 minutes of play as Fenwick raced out to a 21-6 lead at the break.
Spillane picked up 71 of those yards on the Friars opening possession and capped off the 76-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard plunge for an early 7-0 lead.
"He is a horse, he is definitely a Division I football player," Teonic said of the Friars back.
Spillane finished the game with 258 yards on the ground and 3 touchdowns.
The Hersey ground game was a nonfactor most of the game. Mario Thomas finished with a team-high 55 rushing yards, but 28 of those came after the Huskies fell behind three scores.
The offense in general stumbled out of the gates with early drops and negative plays. The first two possessions resulted in six plays and minus 9 yards.
"We came out running the ball and our first two plays went for negative yards," Teonic said. "Then we found a couple things in the passing game and we dropped every one of them. It was a crazy night, we just couldn't sustain any kind of rhythm or momentum offensively."
The Huskies offense found the end zone early in the third quarter for its only score of the game. Trailing 14-0, Jack Warner ran a bootleg to the right, then fired back across the opposite side of the field for a 14-yard scoring pass to Thomas.
The Friars gained the momentum back on their next drive to push its lead back to two scores. Gino Cavalieri (6-for-15, 93 yards) found Jimmy Donahue for 24 yards on a second-down-and-17 play with 6:27 left in the half.
The play capped an 11-play 72-yard drive, in which two previous touchdowns on the drive was called back due to holding penalties.
Hersey had its chances in the third to creep back in the game but failed to convert on three consecutive fourth-and-a-yard or less. Two of the stops came on failed running attempts while one was a dropped pass.
Spillane would slam the door on the Huskies season when he scampered untouched for a 26-yard score on the second play of the final quarter.
The score – Spillane's third of the game – came after the third turnover on downs in the third quarter for the Huskies offense.
Hersey fumbled the ball away on its next drive after Tyndale Dahnweih (4 receptions, 98 yards) was stripped by Richard Schoen on a 42-yard passing play from Warner.
Schoen later intercepted Warner on the Huskies final drive of the season.
Warner eclipsed the 2,000-yard barrier for the season, as he completed 12 of 25 passes for 205 yards. The senior signal-caller finished the season with 2,127 yards through the air and 19 TDs.
The Huskies ended a 10-year playoff drought and finished conference co-champs for the first time since 1976.
"We still had a very solid season," Teonic said. "We have definitely made steps in the right direction. I am very proud of their effort this season. This group has definitely taken this program to a new level in my four years here."