It's Rolling Meadows, in a classic

 
By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/12/2018 11:49 PM
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  • Rolling Meadows' Tim Szylak weaves his way through Hersey's defense for yardage in the second quarter at Rolling Meadows on Friday.

      Rolling Meadows' Tim Szylak weaves his way through Hersey's defense for yardage in the second quarter at Rolling Meadows on Friday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey's Kacper Rutkiewicz makes a pass play in the second quarter as Rolling Meadows' Nife Oseni is there to stop him at Rolling Meadows on Friday.

      Hersey's Kacper Rutkiewicz makes a pass play in the second quarter as Rolling Meadows' Nife Oseni is there to stop him at Rolling Meadows on Friday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Rolling Meadows, which had never trailed this season, rallied to knock of Hersey 38-35 in a battle of unbeaten teams in Rolling Meadows Friday night.

The win clinched the Mid-Suburban East for Rolling Meadows. It was the Mustangs' sixth conference title in the last 7 years, with Hersey capturing the conference crown last year.

The game was the offensive explosion that was expected with the teams combing for 880 yards of offense and 50 first downs.

"It was unbelievable," Rolling Meadows coach Matt Mishler said. "The game was everything I thought it was. For our kids to come back, it was huge for us."

Meadows (8-0, 4-0) methodically moved the ball down the field in the first half. The Mustangs racked up 18 first downs and scored on each of their 4 possessions to lead 24-13.

Jace O'Hara, who would gain 157 yards on 21 carries, tallied first for Meadows, blasting off a 43-yard run on a dive play through the middle of the Hersey defense.

Hersey (7-1, 3-1) responded with the first of two first-half touchdown runs by Jordan Hansen, each from a yard out.

Arek Kleniuk (20-of-29, 213 yards) capped an 8-play, 73-yard drive with a 2-yard run. The Mustangs scored on a jet sweep option pass from Charlie Svoboda to Justin Kretz.

Hansen then scored and the Mustangs' Danny Fallon booted a field goal to end the half.

Hersey turned the tables on the Mustangs in the second half.

On a fourth-and-1 play for Meadows, Hersey forced a fumble and Nick Steger returned it 73 yards. That that set up a 2-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Justice (13-of-28, 197 yards) to Kacper "Ghost" Rutkiewicz. Justice then threw to Jimmy Matanovic for the conversion and suddenly it was 24-21.

"That was an impressive play," Hersey coach Joe Pardun said. "We weren't awake all night and that seemed to wake us up. And that's good we needed that."

Now with some momentum, Hersey went ahead on Hansen's 5-yard run to make it 28-24 on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Rolling Meadows then found out what it was made of.

The Mustangs drove 76 yards with Svoboda coming up with 5 receptions. Svoboda, who was knocked out of bounds, re-entered and then caught a 27-yard touchdown catch after as the Mustangs regained the lead 31-28 with 7:31 to play.

"That was crazy," said Svoboda, who had 9 catches for 108 yards. "At the end of the first half I dropped a touchdown pass. I knew I just had to come back and make every play I could in the second half."

Tim Szylak, who finished with 98 yards on 17 carries, had a 21-yard scoring run for the Mustangs and it was 38-28 with just over 2 minutes to play.

Hersey moved the ball down the field in just over a minute. Hansen, who finished with 122 yards on 18 carries, scored his fourth touchdown of the game with less than a minute to play as the Huskies closed the margin to 38-35.

Rolling Meadows' TJ Williams recovered the ensuing onside kick for the Mustangs, who then ran out the clock to preserve the win.

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