Homewood-Flossmoor too strong for Lake Park
Lake Park made its first visit to the IHSA football playoffs since 2009 Friday night.
Homewood-Flossmoor running back Justin Hall ensured that visit was short.
Hall, a Northern Illinois recruit, rushed for 283 yards on 25 carries and all four of his team's touchdowns as the Class 8A fourth-seeded Vikings defeated Lake Park 28-7.
"He's a special kid," Lake Park coach Chris Roll said of Hall. "I was telling a coach, he can really do anything. You can tell he's a leader, he's got high energy and he's got a lot of tools right now."
Hall set the tone early, with a scoring run of 63 yards on the third play of the game. He used his speed to scamper into the flat, cut left, juked a defender and outraced Lake Park's secondary into the left corner of the end zone, with 10:42 left in the quarter.
Turns out he was just getting started.
On the first play of the Vikings' third possession from their own 9-yard line, Hall went up the middle again, raced to his team's sideline, and beat one defender into the end zone for a 91-yard scoring play.
Meanwhile, the best Lake Park (5-5) could do in the first quarter was advance to the Vikings' 49-yard line before fumbling the ball away -- one of five on the evening, with three lost.
The woes increased for the Lancers late in the half when senior Rashad Khwaja returned a Vikings' punt to their 28-yard line. Five plays later, they were on the 18-yard line, and in good position to score. But another lost fumble killed that drive as well.
Homewood-Flossmoor (9-1) and Hall capitalized on the ensuing possession, with a 59-yard run by Hall setting up his 1-yard scoring run with 28.4 seconds left.
But Lake Park wouldn't go away just yet. Coming out of halftime, quarterback Jackson Behles orchestrated a smooth, efficient 9-play, 67-yard drive that resulted in a 1-yard scoring run by senior running back Jake Carvalho.
"Eight out of 10 weeks we started with the ball in the second half and we scored in seven of them," Roll said. "So it's kind of who we are. Our kids believe in their halftime adjustments, they believe in each other. We do a good job of making sure we adjust. We usually try to put some wrinkle in they're not ready for."
But the Lancers went three-and-out on their next three drives, and the fourth got all the way down to the Homewood-Flossmoor 15 before an incomplete pass on fourth-and-7 ended it.
Behles finished his senior season completing 17 of 28 passes for 157 yards. His favorite target was senior receiver Keonta Nixon, with 6 catches for 43 yards.