Glenbrook South pounds the football then picks it off to deny New Trier
Decent football teams beat teams they should beat. Good ones beat teams that are right there with them.
Glenbrook South got that done in a 26-24 senior night victory over visiting Central Suburban League South foe New Trier on Oct. 8 at John Davis Stadium.
Glenbrook South linebacker Jack Downing's interception with 15.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter sealed the win.
It was the Titans' second interception in the last 5:17. Cornerback Tommy MacPherson's pick at his own 11-yard line temporarily denied New Trier, which rallied from a 17-3 deficit midway through the third quarter.
Both times, defensive end Tommy Corbett put a lick on Trevians quarterback Nevan Cremascoli.
Glenbrook South (6-1, 2-1 CSL South) clinched its first playoff spot since 2017 with its sixth win and also responded from the prior week's loss at Maine South.
"That was a really rough week. We were all extremely upset, but we were all really determined," MacPherson said. "We're not a team that's going to be broken down easy, and you saw it at the end. It got rough, but we stick together and we pulled it out."
New Trier (4-3, 1-2) crept within 26-24 with 41.2 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter on Cremascoli's 1-yard run and Peter Frame's extra-point kick.
Frame delivered the necessary onside kick and teammate Finn Cohan recovered it at Glenbrook South's 43-yard line. Cohan's 8-yard catch set up Frame's attempt at a fourth-down, 52-yard field goal, but a false-start penalty set New Trier back and Downing intercepted on the next play.
"I would have liked to have seen our kicker try one from 52," said New Trier coach Brian Doll. "People have seen him already on Twitter, we know he can kick 50-plus; 57's a little more than I wanted to try in this game. I thought we were going to try and get one more first down and kick it again."
A left-footed kicker, Frame converted one field goal of 32 yards. Glenbrook South's Franco Fernandez-Enjo kicked two, of 35 and 34 yards, the first giving the Titans a 10-0 halftime lead.
Countering a defense designed to stop the run -- a 5-man front with three linebackers often up tight -- Glenbrook South running backs Matt Burda and Will Collins combined for 289 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns.
Collins ran for 160 yards with a pair of 2-yard touchdown runs. Burda ran for 129 yards and the game-winning touchdown, 47 yards up the middle inside guard Drew Duffy's trap block with 5:59 left in the fourth quarter.
"We've had some injuries this week, we don't have all of our starting O-line in, but that didn't matter," said Collins, whose second touchdown gave Glenbrook South its 17-3 lead at 5:34 of the third quarter.
"Everyone stepped up. Our backup center (Nick Brattleaf), he came in and he played so well. I give everyone on the O-line credit because they never gave up," Collins said.
"It goes down to our fundamentals and doing what we were trained to do," said tackle Chris Fish, 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds.
Often penalized, its first-half time of possession half that of Glenbrook South, New Trier scored 24 second-half points led by Cremascoli and tailback Jack Cummings, who ran for 78 yards on 12 carries with a 4-yard touchdown run.
Despite Corbett and fellow Titans defensive end Jacque Gariepy hassling him all night, Cremascoli completed 20 of 37 passes for 315 yards. Set up by Josh Kirkpatrick's 37-yard juggling circus catch, Cremascoli's 14-yard touchdown pass to Alex Mendes trimmed New Trier's deficit to 20-17 with 7:52 to play.
"I think the biggest thing was knowing in the second half we're down two scores; we've got to score every time we've got the ball," Cremascoli said.
"We've got to start thinking that way from the beginning of the game, and we've got to take advantage of the opportunities. I was proud of how we fought in the second half, but too little, too late."
Glenbrook South appeared to catch a break when, after Mendes' touchdown, New Trier defensive lineman Jesse Mendoza knocked the football loose and Cummings picked it up and jogged 35 yards into the end zone. The play had been whistled dead, though, and three plays later Burda provided the clinching score.
"Always good to have a bounce-back victory, which we did," said Glenbrook South coach Dave Schoenwetter, whose sixth win this fall -- the most for the Titans since 2014 -- is one more than in any of his prior five seasons as head coach.
"I thought our kids practiced really well this week despite losing last week. Coach Doll's got a really nice team over there, and so it means a lot to us to be able to beat them. It's a good victory for our program."