What two-game losing streak?
Naperville North played inspired football to break a brief slide and claim Friday's 44-41 DuPage Valley Conference cross-town victory over Naperville Central at North Central College.
Yes, it took another comeback for the Huskies (5-2, 4-2) to win and become playoff eligible. This time, though, it was only a 4-point third-quarter deficit.
Trailing 27-23, Ameir Wilbourn scored on a 65-yard run to put the Huskies ahead to stay. Then they recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and converted five plays later on Brett Zdrubecky's 4-yard touchdown run.
Naperville North grew the lead to 44-27 on Drake Davis' 30-yard pass to Matthew Heinz, and the Huskies held on from there.
"We feel like we were underestimated going into this game," said Huskies linebacker Ryan Marrano. "Not many people picked us to win, so it was just great to come out here and get a 'W.' It wasn't that pretty on defense, but we still got the win and that's what matters."
With more than 900 total yards on the night, neither team ever felt out of the game. The lead changed hands four times in the first half, with Naperville North building a 23-13 halftime advantage.
Naperville Central quarterback Payton Thorne, who threw for 300 yards and 4 touchdowns, tossed a 14-yard scoring pass to A.J. Deinhart on the opening drive of the third quarter. Jayden Reed's 3-yard touchdown run put the Redhawks ahead 27-23.
"You've got to give Naperville North credit," said Redhawks coach Mike Stine. "Their offense is very good. Every time we tried to get back in it, they made a play. They were the better team tonight."
Trailing 44-27, the Redhawks (5-2, 5-1) had multiple scoring chances in the game's final six minutes. It started with Thorne's 6-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Coyne to narrow the deficit to 44-33. Naperville Central recovered the onside kick but missed on a 40-yard field goal.
A 16-yard touchdown pass from Thorne to Reed made it 44-41 after the 2-point conversion with 42 seconds left. The ensuing kick, however, went out of bounds to all but end the game.
"We always go in believing," said Huskies receiver Ryan Laurenzo. "Nothing changed. We went in there knowing that we were going to do our thing, and we did it."
Davis completed 22 of 32 passes for 313 yards and 3 touchdowns. Nine catches for 135 yards and a touchdown went to Laurenzo.
Coyne had 5 catches for 115 yards while Zdrubecky and Wilbourn combined for 155 rushing yards.
"Our offense played really well today," said Huskies coach Sean Drendel. "We had opportunities and we took them."
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