Tumilty sparks Willowbrook to comeback win over Moline

Updated 11/5/2021 11:21 PM

Moline experienced a case of déjà vu on Friday night.

Two years ago, Willowbrook pounded the Maroons in a Class 7A first-round playoff game. Sam Tumilty threw four touchdowns to spark the Warriors to the playoff win.


In a return matchup of the two teams Friday, it was Joe Tumilty's turn to add to the Maroons' woes.

A junior wide receiver and defensive back, Joe Tumilty sparked a stunning comeback in the final seven-plus minutes, intercepting a pass and tossing the winning touchdown to lead the 21st-seeded Warriors to a 30-26 upset victory over fifth-seeded Moline in a Class 7A second-round playoff game in Villa Park.

Not only did the younger Tumilty add another chapter to his family's growing gridiron legacy, but his strong two-way performance extended the Warriors' streak to five straight quarterfinal appearances.

The Warriors (8-3) advanced to play No. 4 seed Wheaton North next weekend.

The 5-foot-9, 165-pound Tumilty had a 40-yard touchdown reception to open the scoring, and added a 45-yard interception return with just over seven minutes left in regulation to set up his 56-yard pass, off a jet sweep, to Nick Mabutas with 6:14 left in the fourth quarter.

But despite Tumilty's memorable outing, his best moves came during the postgame, deflecting question after question about his place in the Tumilty football household, which also includes Scott Tumilty.

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"Two years ago, I was on the sidelines (against Moline), so it was fun to watch my brother's play and learn from them because they are my role models," Joe Tumilty said. "I just tried to play hard for my teammates, and it was fun to come together as a team ... It was a fun game.

"I just play for my teammates and as hard as I can to put points on for my team and make tackles. My older brothers were very good out here."

The momentum of the game shifted three times, with Tumilty's 40-yard touchdown grab 30 seconds into the game helping the Warriors build a 10-0 lead. The Maroons answered by outscoring the Warriors 26-7 the rest of the half, capped by a Hail Mary TD on the final play to seize a 26-17 lead at halftime.

"(Moline) has a bunch of weapons all over the place, and they do a really good job with the single wing and their quarterback throws ball well and makes good decisions," Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth said. "We talked about some adjustments and things we wanted to do differently. We knew we had to get stops and strings things together."


The Warriors benefitted from some questionable play-calling by the Maroons in the fourth quarter to mount their comeback following a scoreless third quarter, including forcing three second-half turnovers.

After Mabutas, who had five receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns, caught a 14-yard TD to lower the deficit to 26-24 early in the fourth, Tumilty intercepted a pass and returned it 45 yards with 7:14 left. One minute later, Tumilty shocked Moline's defense, tossing a 56-yard TD to Mabutas for the winning touchdown. Vince Vassolo sealed the win with an interception at the 1:18 mark.

"Each (Tumilty) is a different kid and brings a different skill sets," Hildreth said. "We talked about that before the game. Our mantra is 'maintain the culture' and what that means about the guys that come before us and after."

Willowbrook senior running back Jaylon White, who rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown, praised the team's heart -- and Tumilty -- for the comeback.

"This is amazing," White said. "We were down at halftime, but we knew could come back and keep fighting. It's amazing playing with a Tumilty. They're almost all the same, just amazing players."

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