Judging by the passing statistics it would seem St. Charles North should have fared a little better on Saturday afternoon against visiting St. Rita.
North Stars quarterback Mike Hohensee completed 30 of 56 passes for 390 yards.
However, most of that success came between the 20s. Inside the red zone was a whole other story as the Mustangs' stingy defense held the North Stars to just 2 of 10 passing and picked the ball off twice in the end zone. On two other trips inside the 20-yard line North had to settle for a field goal and turned the ball over on downs. .
Meanwhile the St. Rita offense countered the North Stars' aerial attack with a bruising ground game, racking up 355 yards rushing as they rolled to a 26-16 win in the second round of the Class 7A state playoffs. North just didn't have an answer to stop Mustangs' senior Chris Childers, who rushed 31 times for 269 yards and 3 touchdowns.
"It was very disappointing to get the ball down there that many times and not come away with any points," North coach Rob Pomazak said. "We've been very good in the red zone and Mike has played great for us all year, but today we just couldn't crack the goal line. You have to hand it to them. When they had their backs against the wall they played some great defense. What it really came down to is they are a very good team and us not executing the finer details. A few crucial plays made the difference and that's usually the case when you get further into the playoffs."
A real backbreaker for the sixth-seeded North Stars (9-2) came in the closing moments of the first half when it looked like they were marching for a game-tying touchdown as they marched down to the St. Rita 6-yard line, but an interception in the end zone preserved a 14-7 lead for the 11th-seeded Mustangs (9-2) heading into the locker room at halftime.
St. Rita, which will host Lake Zurich in next week's quarterfinals, then put the game on ice in the second half. On their second possession the Mustangs marched 58 yards and went up 20-7 on a 2-yard touchdown run by Childers, who also had 4 catches for 41 yards. Then early in the fourth quarter Childers sealed the deal with an 87-yard run for a touchdown to make it 26-7.
"The play at the end of the half hurt," Pomazak said. "It would have been nice to be tied at 14-14 heading into halftime, but we still felt good that we were only down one score. The real killer was the long run by their kid (Childers). He's a great athlete and is going to have nice career at Indiana State,"
Childers also had a 1-yard touchdown run on the Mustangs' opening drive of the game. Jake Stefanski added a 13-yard touchdown run in the first half that put St. Rita ahead 14-7.
The North Stars tried to make a late comeback. Brandon Eickert had a 22-yard field goal and Hohensee threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Alec Kritta in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late.
Hohensee and Kritta also hooked up on a 40-yard touchdown pass in the first half. Kritta finished with 3 receptions for 108 yards. Junior Tyler Nubin had 13 catches for 145 yards.
"It's disappointing we couldn't advance" Nubin said. "But we can't hang our heads. This is the best team I have ever been a part of and we accomplished a lot. Winning the conference title was one of the best moments ever. I just feel sad for the seniors that we couldn't keep it going."