There might be no good football losses, but Saturday came close.
Naperville Central went toe-to-toe with nationally ranked St. Edward of Ohio, before two key fourth-quarter plays decided the outcome and the host Redhawks fell 34-24 in a matchup of unbeatens.
Naperville Central (5-1) led 24-20 early in the fourth, but St. Edward (6-0) reclaimed the lead for good with a touchdown two plays after blocking a punt, then held on fourth-and-1 at midfield on the Redhawks' next possession. A 13-play, nearly six-minute drive culminated in another St. Edward touchdown and a 10-point Eagles lead with just over two minutes to play.
An interception on the Redhawks' final possession put an end to a strong afternoon of football despite suffering their first loss of the season.
"This will give us confidence for the rest of the season," said Redhawks senior receiver Jayden Reed, who scored all three of his team's touchdowns. "We'll use this game for momentum and just keep going. Even though we lost we played a really tough game."
The lead changed hands five times, with Naperville Central rallying from a 20-10 halftime deficit despite fumbling on the opening drive of the third quarter. Reed, who scored his first touchdown on a 74-yard second-quarter strike from Payton Thorne, added a 75-yard third-quarter touchdown catch.
After Braden Lindmark recovered a St. Edward fumble, Reed scored on a 15-yard run to put the Redhawks ahead 24-20 late in the third quarter.
"Our goal -- we knew we were playing a great team -- was to try and get this game in the fourth quarter and give ourselves a chance to make a play," said Redhawks coach Mike Stine. "I'm really proud of the way our guys battled."
Thorne completed 14 of 25 passes for 271 yards, including 6 catches for 198 yards by Reed. Vaughn Hallstrom started the game's scoring with a 46-yard first-quarter field goal.
St. Edward rushed for 281 yards led by Tylan Rice's 13 carries for 129 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jordan Castleberry had 20 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown.
"It was a long drive here, but we just tried to come out with the 'W,'" Rice said. "In the second half we kind of came out lackadaisical and then we got back to our routine."
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