Hoffman Estates hands Vernon Hills first loss

By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/18/2021 12:29 AM

Jashawn Johnson didn't catch a pass until the fourth quarter. But when he did, Johnson and Hoffman Estates exploded.

Johnson had a 35-yard touchdown catch and then later had an interception that he turned into a 91-yard return to lift the Hawks past Vernon Hills 34-28 Friday in Hoffman Estates.


"My team just needed a play and I made it," said Johnson, who also had another 35 -yard reception that set up the Hawks' go-ahead touchdown.

"I got that interception and when I took off I knew I could score."

Hoffman Estates coach Tim Heyse said his big-time guys came though when they needed them.

"That's what they do, "Heyse said. "It was a great game an we came up big when we needed it most."

Hoffman Estates (3-1) got on the board first as Yashua Pettis-Taylor busted off left tackle for a 9-yard scoring burst to put the Hawks up 7-0 with 7:48 left in their first half. It capped a 10-play, 66-yard drive.

Vernon Hills (3-1) put together a 56-yard scoring drive with Nolan Lazor (13-of-26, 237 yards) scoring on a 2-yard quarterback sneak. The Cougars opted to go for 2, but fumbled the snap and trailed 7-6 with 3:09 left in the half.

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The Hawks came flying back on the first play from scrimmage following the kickoff. Aidan Cyr (8-of-11, 170 yards) connected on a pass to Stephon Sellers. The speedy sophomore then cut to the inside and raced to complete a 54-yard scoring play and Hoffman was up 14-6.

Vernon Hills was able to tie the game with 23.5 seconds left in the half. Kamren Martin scored on a third-and-goal play from the 3. Jake Peiper added a conversion run to make it 14-14.

After a scoreless third quarter, Vernon Hills broke on top.

The Cougars took a 20-14 lead on a 35-yard bubble screen from Lazor to Alex Gil with 10:04 to play. But Vernon Hills misfired on the conversion pass to open the door for the Hawks.

Johnson then scored on a quick slant and the ensuing extra point by Anu Anuoluwa gave the Hawks a 21-20 lead.

After a 35-yard reception by Johnson set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Pettis-Taylor the Hawks appeared to be in control with a 28-20 lead.


"I came out and fought hard," said Pettix-Taylor, who had 210 yards on 27 carries "My O-line was amazing. It all comes from hard work in practice."

Vernon Hills made it interesting at the end. Piper threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Gil. Lazor followed with a conversion pass to Gil to cut the lead to 34-28 with 7.5 seconds left,

The Cougars recovered the onside kick. But Pettis-Taylor had his third interception of the night to seal the win.

"Our mistakes just caught up with us," Vernon Hills coacht Bill Bellecomo said. "Against a team that good it will haunt you."

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