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Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 10/14/2017 7:11 AM

Lake Park beats Neuqua Valley in OT thriller

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  • Lake Park's Keonta Nixon (18) runs for a touchdown after his catch against Neuqua Valley during Friday night football action in Naperville. Neuqua Valley's Ryan Wheeler makes a diving effort on the play.

      Lake Park's Keonta Nixon (18) runs for a touchdown after his catch against Neuqua Valley during Friday night football action in Naperville. Neuqua Valley's Ryan Wheeler makes a diving effort on the play.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
By Phil Brozynski
Daily Herald Correspondent

It took extra time for Neuqua Valley and Lake Park to decide their DuPage Valley Conference football matchup in Naperville on Friday.

And in the overtime, the Lancers' David Kirkpatrick-Hardwick was the man of the moment.

After Lake Park recovered a Neuqua Valley fumble on the Wildcats' first play in the OT, Lake Park handed the ball to Kirkpatrick-Hardwick. He carried it three times and ended up scoring from the 2 on third down to give the Lancers a 29-23 overtime victory.

"We've been through a lot of adversity this year," said Lake Park coach Chris Roll. "We have two last-second losses. Wheaton North got the best of us, we had a three-game losing streak, and all we talked about is how much character this team has and how much the seniors work hard. This victory, despite all the adversity -- I'm so proud of the seniors."

The victory makes Lake Park (5-3, 5-2) playoff eligible, while Neuqua Valley (5-3, 4-3) lost for a second straight week.

"It was crazy," Kirkpatrick-Hardwick said. "This whole week we focused on working hard and finishing our drives, and we finally did that. My (offensive) line pushed."

Lake Park last appeared in the postseason eight seasons ago.

"It's been a drought since '09," Kirkpatrick-Hardwick said, "but we came together as a team and we finally got this playoff berth."

Neuqua Valley had the upper hand for much of the game. The Wildcats scored first on their second possession, driving from their own 18-yard line to the Lake Park 9 before a holding penalty forced the Wildcats to settle for a 31-yard field goal by Stephen Ruiz with 10:37 remaining in the second quarter.

Twenty-one seconds later, the Wildcats struck again on a 37-yard pass from Jake Eskoff to Miles Rathell. The touchdown was set up by Ryan Wheeler's interception of a Jackson Behles pass on a second-and-21 call from the Lancers' 9.

Behles got even 80 seconds later when he hooked up with Keonta Nixon on a 69-yard catch-and-run to get the visitors within 10-6. But Will Chevalier returned the ensuing kickoff 54 yards to set up Eskoff's 40-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Patrick Hoffman with 7:41 left in the half.

Lake Park answered 25 seconds before the break on Zach Deardorff's 26-yard field goal to get within 17-9. The Lancers tried a little chicanery by attempting an onside kick, but the Wildcats recovered and ran out the first-half clock.

Neuqua Valley extended its lead to 23-9 with 15.6 seconds remaining in the third quarter on a 40-yard pass from Eskoff to Brant Stare, but Lake Park answered with 8:24 remaining on a 12-yard pass from Behles to Diamante Smith following a short Neuqua Valley punt.

The Lancers pulled even at 23-23 when Kirkpatrick-Hardwick capped an 8-play, 70-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run with 4:14 remaining.

Neuqua Valley missed an opportunity to win the game in regulation when it missed a 29-yard field goal as time expired.

Lake Park wraps up its regular season by hosting Naperville Central next week.

Neuqua Valley finishes with a Week 9 matchup at Glenbard North.

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