Larkin holds off West Chicago comeback bid
In the press box before Friday's game, Larkin's assistant coaches said the key to success was Kindrel Morris' ability to run the football.
Give those men a raise.
On West Chicago turf, Morris ran 20 times for 298 yards with touchdown runs of 71, 53 and the game-winning 93-yarder with 7 minutes, 2 seconds left in the Upstate Eight Conference crossover. Then with 45.9 seconds remaining Larkin denied West Chicago's C.J. Griffin on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line to secure a 22-20 victory.
Griffin nearly crossed the goal line on third down.
"I reached the ball forward and it got over, the ref just marked me down, nothing we could do about that," said Griffin, who ran for 68 yards on 7 carries with touchdown runs of 34 and 1 yards.
"And the last play, they made a good defensive play," he said. "They'd seen that we like to stretch the ball so they brought it hard off the perimeter to stop it, and their back-side pursuit was great so they stood me up at the 1."
In its triple-option offense West Chicago (1-3) methodically drove to an 8-0 lead at 7:25 of the first quarter. Ruben Fernandez ran in a pitch 3 yards and quarterback Jeff Zajac tossed the conversion to Jahleel Humphrey.
Larkin (2-2) struck 20 seconds later, Morris bolting 71 yards on the Royals' first play to bring Larkin within 8-6.
West Chicago lost fumbles on each of its next three possessions, and Larkin kicker Adrian Jaramillo capitalized with a 20-yard, first-quarter field goal that stood for a 9-8 Royals halftime lead.
In the second half West Chicago and Larkin traded leads, with Morris' 53- and 93-yard touchdown runs answering Griffin's 34- and 1-yard scores.
"Last week (a 45-6 loss to St. Charles North) I was misreading my blockers and we started over, went back to basics. We got it right and I just started reading it better than I had been since the beginning of the season," said Morris, who ran for 209 yards in last year's 46-12 win over the Wildcats.
Larkin's defense came up huge three times in the second half. Kione Williams-Sowers intercepted a Wildcats pass in his own end zone, Morris himself made a stop on fourth-and-goal from the 8, then turned around to bust up the gut for his 93-yard touchdown run.
"What a fight. What an unbelievable job by our kids," said Royals coach Dragan Teonic.
Finally, linebacker D.J. Ball -- also Larkin quarterback -- stuffed Griffin on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
"We had opportunities to make plays. We just didn't do it." said West Chicago coach Ted Monken.
"We very easily could have won by two, three touchdowns, but we didn't," he said. "We didn't make the plays and they did. It was a great game, our kids fought hard, did some nice things but just not enough of them."