Friday night might just turn out to be the longest night of the 2014 season for the Hoffman Estates football team.
But the three-and-a-half hour marathon, including a 30-minute lightning delay, may very well be the most satisfying.
The Hawks kicked off the 2014 campaign with a hard-fought 42-25 victory over Streamwood behind 3 rushing touchdowns from senior running back Connor McCreary, including two in the first quarter that spotted the Hawks to a 21-0 lead.
McCreary, who rushed for 73 yards on 22 carries, added his third touchdown with 9:46 left in the game that gave the Hawks a 35-19 lead, and he also kicked all seven extra points.
But after the game McCreary eschewed his efforts.
Instead he chose to praise his offensive line and senior quarterback Jeff Mayes, who completed 11-of-22 passes for 228 yards.
One was an 18-yard touchdown toss to senior receiver Brandon Hall with 4:22 left that set the final score.
"He played great," McCreary said of Mayes. "He's a smart football player. He knows what he's doing all the time. We can always count on him; we've just got to keep him healthy."
Hoffman Estates coach Mike Donatucci was simply happy to walk away with the victory, considering the lightning delay at the end of the second quarter that resulted in a longer halftime, along with 13 penalties for 110 yards lost.
"It was exciting and rewarding to see us click like we did offensively and come up with some big stops defensively to get that lead," Donatucci said. "In the third quarter, they kind of shifted the momentum and then we bounced back. But overall, I'm really proud of the kids."
Especially McCreary and junior running back Chady Bitre, who chipped in 59 yards on 10 carries and 1 touchdown with 9:41 left in the second quarter.
"He was snakebit all last year, he was hurt, so to have him back in the fold, and Chady our second running back, there were a lot of positives tonight," Donatucci said.
While Mayes put up big passing numbers for Hoffman Estates, Streamwood senior quarterback Max Draper was even better, completing 28-of-42 passes for 321 yards and two touchdowns.
The most impressive of the pair came with 8:34 left in the game.
On a first-and-10 from the Sabres' 43-yard line, he hit junior running back Tae Reetz with a pass in the flat near the Hawks' sideline. Reetz then managed to cut across the field to the Streamwood sideline, got a key block from senior receiver Noah Polich and toppled into the left corner of the end zone, cutting the Hawks' lead to 35-25.
The two-point conversion failed, however, and on the ensuing kickoff, Mayes managed to fashion a nine-play, 63-yard drive that culminated in his only touchdown pass of the night, to Hall.
"The kids responded," said Streamwood coach Mark Orszula. "They did a good job there, they came back in the third quarter. We just couldn't finish."
Orszula had high praise for Reetz, who finished with 78 yards rushing on eight carries, along with his touchdown reception, the only pass he caught all evening.
"Tae is a great athlete, there's no doubt about that, and he made a great play there," Orszula said. "He made a bunch of guys miss and was able to score."
Draper's favorite receiver was Polich, who caught 12 passes for 123 yards.
"This game was a battle," he said. "It's always been a fight against them."