Olsen's clutch kick lifts WW South over St. Charles North
The battle for second place in the DuKane Conference came down to Jack Olsen's right leg, which was just fine with Wheaton Warrenville South coach Ron Muhitch.
The junior's 41-yard field goal split the uprights with 21.4 seconds remaining, giving the Tigers a thrilling 13-11 win at St. Charles North.
Olsen knew the kick was good the moment it left his foot, turning to celebrate with his teammates.
"Every kick is the same kick. You don't think of it as any other kick and do what you normally do," said Olsen, who made a 31-yarder earlier in the game after missing from 26 yards in the first quarter.
"When you miss a kick you have to forget about it, move on. I did that and it worked out great. Perfect snap, perfect hold."
St. Charles North (6-3, 5-2) moved the ball to its 43-yard line on an 18-yard pass from Kyler Brown to Alec Kritta with 5 seconds left.
Brown threw a Hail Mary into the end zone that Christian Shields intercepted as time expired.
It was the second straight week the North Stars led in the waning seconds but couldn't get the stop they needed after losing at DuKane champion Batavia in similar fashion last week.
"Lack of execution," St. Charles North coach Rob Pomazak said. "We don't execute, we don't win."
Wheaton Warrenville South (8-1, 6-1) trailed 3-0 at halftime with the only points coming on Luke Barresi's 39-yard field goal.
The Tigers capitalized on a high snap that went through the North Stars' punter's hands early in the second half, giving WW South first down at St. Charles North's 12-yard line. Quarterback Noah Henkel scored on a 3-yard keeper for a 7-3 lead with 7:37 left in the third quarter.
Special teams play also helped WW South extend its lead to 10-3 with 4:33 remaining after a long punt return led to another short drive and Olsen's 31-yard field goal.
The North Stars moved the ball all night but didn't have anything to show for it until late in the fourth quarter. Starting at their own 20, Brown completed passes of 19, 15, 14 and 13 yards to Gilbert Braglia, Kritta and Matthew Groskopf to get to the Tigers' 16.
Brown then found Tyler Nubin cutting across the middle of the field for a 16-yard touchdown with 2:10 left, pulling within 10-9.
Pomazak went for 2, and Nubin took the direct snap and ran to his right, easily getting into the end zone for an 11-10 lead.
"We went all out on the 2-point play, we knew exactly what they were going to do," Muhitch said. "He's (Nubin) a great player, he does so many things for them. They lit it up in the air tonight. The kid (Brown) did a nice job for a junior quarterback, a really nice job."
The Tigers quickly found themselves in trouble on their last drive. A sack by Ben Furtney led to a 4th-and-15 from their own 24-yard line with a minute left and no timeouts remaining.
Henkel came through with a 32-yard completion to a wide-open Jason Haw on a wheel route, then hit Matt Brennan for 19 yards over the middle on the next play to put WW South in position for Olsen's winning kick.
"That was an excellent drive because our offense was struggling," Muhitch said. "We're excited we have a really good kicker. That (4th down pass) was an outstanding call by our offensive coordinator (Sean Norris). We got that back wheel from the opposite side which that ought to be driving them (St. Charles North) nuts after watching what happened to them last week. It was a similar type of throw back play. Haw was wide open. You know it's a well-designed play when you get that much open. It was a big play."
Joe Ives also made a key play for the Tigers, intercepting a pass in the end zone in the third quarter after Cedric Rowzee deflected the ball on a fade intended for Nubin, enabling the Tigers to keep their 7-3 lead.