South Elgin knocks out Warren
A little luck is always welcomed in the football playoffs.
South Elgin senior receiver Domico Failla caught the go-ahead touchdown Saturday laying on his back off a deflection. The score gave the Storm the lead that it would not relinquish, beating Warren, 21-13, at Millennium Field for the team's first postseason victory.
"I didn't see it (coming down) until the very last second," said Failla, who had four catches for 73 yards. "I was on the ground and it almost fell on my lap."
The eighth-seeded Storm (7-3), which is making its second playoff appearance, will play at top seed Stevenson (10-0) next week in the second round.
But for now South Elgin will savor Saturday's victory, at least for a day.
"I'm ecstatic," said South Elgin senior defensive lineman Andre York. "Last year we last in the first round. It feels good to come back this year and get a win and go on to the next step."
Warren (6-4), the No. 9 seed, scored on its opening possession, a six-play, 45-yard drive. Tom Lindal, who finished with 79 yards on 10 carries, capped the drive with 1-yard touchdown run with 7:44 remaining in the first quarter.
The Storm tied the game at 7-7 on a 1-yard touchdown run from Brad Birchfield with 1:07 left in the first quarter.
The Blue Devils had a couple of opportunities to take the lead in the second quarter, but missed 33-yard and 34-yard field goal attempts.
"We had some opportunities," Warren coach Dave Mohapp said. "We didn't finish our drives offensively. We got a good start, but didn't finish things up the way we needed to."
After Warren went three-and-out to open the second half, the Storm went 55 yards in less than 3 minutes for the eventual game-winning score. South Elgin was facing a fourth-and-1 from the Blue Devils' 31, but the Blue Devils jumped offsides, giving the Storm a first down at the 26. On the next play, Storm quarterback John Menken under threw a ball intended for Failla, who turned into a defensive back just trying to knock the ball away from a Warren defender. The ball bounced off a Failla and a Warren defender before falling into Failla's hands while he was on the ground in the end zone for a touchdown with 7:36 left in the third quarter.
"He dropped a couple of balls in the first half," Storm coach Dale Schabert said of Failla. "You could see him hanging his head a little bit. To see him make that catch, I don't know of any receiver more deserving of that today."
Warren took advantage of a muffed punt midway through the fourth quarter. After recovering the fumble, the Blue Devils got the ball on the Storm's 13. Nolan Sordyl rushed for a touchdown on the next play with 6:15 left in the fourth. But the extra point was missed wide left, allowing South Elgin to keep a 14-13 lead.
The Storm answered right back. Rowell Siazon scored on a 15-yard run with 3:35 left to give South Elgin a 21-13 lead. The big play on the 71-yard drive was a 50-yard run from Zack Gross.
The Blue Devils were forced to punt, facing a fourth-and-17 from their own 11, with just over 2 ½ minutes and two timeouts left. But the Storm was able to pick up one first down and run out the clock.
"That was probably the best game I played in in a long time," York said. "I feel special just to be a part of that game."