Hersey stops Rolling Meadows in MSL East showdown

 
By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/14/2017 7:15 AM
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  • Hersey QB Owen Goldsberry keeps the ball and runs in for a first-quarter touchdown at Rolling Meadows on Friday.

      Hersey QB Owen Goldsberry keeps the ball and runs in for a first-quarter touchdown at Rolling Meadows on Friday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Rolling Meadows' Gregory Bouraoui scores a first-half touchdown despite the efforts of Hersey defender Jordan Hansen.

      Rolling Meadows' Gregory Bouraoui scores a first-half touchdown despite the efforts of Hersey defender Jordan Hansen. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Rolling Meadows' Tim Szylak tries to score a touchdown but Hersey's Zakary Karman stops him short of the goal line in the first half at Rolling Meadows on Friday.

      Rolling Meadows' Tim Szylak tries to score a touchdown but Hersey's Zakary Karman stops him short of the goal line in the first half at Rolling Meadows on Friday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Rolling Meadows' Jared Axelrad reaches out on a touchdown attempt, but Hersey's Colton Kamysz stops him short in the first half at Rolling Meadows on Friday.

      Rolling Meadows' Jared Axelrad reaches out on a touchdown attempt, but Hersey's Colton Kamysz stops him short in the first half at Rolling Meadows on Friday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Rolling Meadows quarterback Arek Kleniuk delivers a pass under duress in the first half against Hersey at Rolling Meadows on Friday.

      Rolling Meadows quarterback Arek Kleniuk delivers a pass under duress in the first half against Hersey at Rolling Meadows on Friday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Owen Goldsberry came up with the Midas touch for Hersey on Friday night in Rolling Meadows.

The senior quarterback changed the Huskies' fortunes with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to rally his team past Meadows 21-20.

Hersey (7-1, 4-0) clinched a share of the MSL East title. And if the Huskies can knock off Prospect next Friday, Hersey will win a conference title outright for the the first time since 1991.

"We talked before the game about a game we had five years ago where we could have clinched and gave up the lead in the fourth quarter," said a drenched Hersey coach Joe Pardun, who had just received a drenching from his jubilant team.

"The way our guys came back in the fourth quarter, I can't believe it."

Goldsberry broke loose just when the Huskies needed him to.

Rolling Meadows (5-2, 3-1) had just gone up 20-7 with 17.6 seconds left in the third quarter. The Hersey offesnse, which had been bottled up by the Mustangs defense after the first series of the game, needed a spark and Goldsberry provided it.

On the final play of the third quarter, Goldsberry, who had 49 yards on 14 carries to that point, busted off a 37-yard run.

"We just kept at it," said Goldsberry, who finished with 152 yards on 26 carries. "We are a dangerous team and we knew they could not hold us back the entire time."

Four plays later, Goldsberry crashed over from the 1 to cut the margin to 20-14 with 10:29 to play.

Buoyed by their quarterback play, the Hersey defense came up with their first of two keys stops in the final quarter. Nick Steiger, Jake Mailloux, Nick Wiley and Caleb Augustyn forced a three and out for the Huskies.

"I really give credit to our defensive line and linebackers," Steiger said. "We went hard and stepped up when we needed. We got the ball to Owen. That kid has the biggest heart I have ever seen."

The Hersey offensive line of Austin Korbs, Jake Mailloux, Will Ebert, Luke Roos, Ryan Derrig and Brendan Watson went to work.

Operating behind that group, Goldsberry drove the Huskies 59 yards on 11 plays. Goldsberry capped the drive with a 5-yard blast to tie the game at 20-20. Scott Tangney then nailed the conversion kick to put Hersey up with 5:36 to play.

Rolling Meadows wasn't quite done.

Quarterback Arek Kleniuk, who was masterful the entire evening, finishing 29-of-34 for 306 yards and 3 touchdowns, got the Mustangs on the move.

The junior drove his team to the Hersey 37 where his team faced third and 3. The Mustangs took a shot to the end and Goldsberry, who was inserted at free safety just for this situation, knocked the ball away.

"I don't practice it," Goldsberry said. "I go in whenever I am needed. I was in free man coverage. Their guy did a a double-move and I just came over and made a play."

On fourth down, the Huskies' Zachary Karman jumped over a Mustangs receiver to knock the ball away and give it back to his team. Hersey then ran out the clock to preserve the victory.

"I told Owen that we had not been through that much adversity," Pardun said. "I have known Owen for a long time, and he always responds to those situations."

Goldsberry gave the Huskies a 7-0 lead on Hersey's first series of the game. He scored on a 6-yard to highlight a 9-play, 66-yard drive to make it 7-0.

Twice after, Meadows would venture inside the Hersey 5-yard line and on both occasions, the Huskies turned them away -- once on a missed field goal and the other time when a fourth-down pass came up inches short of a first down.

Meadows, which is the five-time defending MSL East champion, was undaunted. Kleniuk connected with Gregory Bouraoui on a 27-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 7-7 late in the second quarter.

Kleniuk continued his fine work in the second half.

First he hit Luke Nordman on a 43-yard touchdown pass with 7:52 left in the third quarter to make it 14-7. He then connected with Willis Goodman on a 24-yard pass. But the conversion kick was just wide.

"We asked our guys to play as hard as they could and they did not leave anything behind," Rolling Meadows coach Matt Mishler said. "I thought that was two good football teams getting after it."

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