Historic win for Maine West

 
By Greg Swiderski
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/27/2018 12:08 AM
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  • Maine West's Ely Grimmer holds up the ball in the end zone after making a touchdown catch in the second quarter of Friday's Class 7A playoff game in Des Plaines. The Benet Academy defender is John Walsh.

      Maine West's Ely Grimmer holds up the ball in the end zone after making a touchdown catch in the second quarter of Friday's Class 7A playoff game in Des Plaines. The Benet Academy defender is John Walsh. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Maine West's Jake Bellizzi is stoped by Benet Academy's Jack Cooney, left during Friday's Class 7A playoff game in Des Plaines.

      Maine West's Jake Bellizzi is stoped by Benet Academy's Jack Cooney, left during Friday's Class 7A playoff game in Des Plaines. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

Two plays that almost didn't happen for Maine West turned out to be two of the more important plays of the game.

Maine West coach Jason Kradman was not aware that Benet had declined a procedure penalty on the Warriors making it fourth down. With the ball on the Warriors' 49-yard line and with 7 yards to go for a first down, quarterback Danny Kentgen connected with David Jackson for a 9-yard gain and a first down.

"I never saw the referee signal the decline," said Kradman. "Had I seen that I would have punted. Kentgen made a good pass to Jackson on that play and kept the drive going."

Ely Grimmer made a 13-yard catch as the drive continued, and followed that with a 28-yard grab in the end zone to give Maine West a 14-0 lead with 27 seconds left in the first half.

Maine West, the No. 12 seed, would go on to squeak out a 20-18 win over No. 21 seed Benet in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs Friday night in Des Plaines. The Warriors will face No. 5 seed Willowbrook next weekend in the second round at Willowbrook.

The win set a school record for Maine West with 9 wins and it was the Warriors' first playoff win in six tries.

The loss finished the Redwings' season at 6-4.

Krystian Garbicz, a reliable place-kicker for the Warriors, had made only one field goal this season but he connected on a 32-yarder in the third quarter for a 17-0 lead. His bigger one was from 34 yards out with 7:02 left in the game that turned out to be the clincher, giving Maine West a 20-12 lead.

"I was just scared stiff," said Garbicz. "I usually don't make those in practice. But I gave it everything I had and just hoped for the best. On defense we were bend-but-don't-break and we came up with some big plays when we needed them. This has to be one of the happiest days of my life."

Jackson also contributed strongly with two big plays.

His first was a 66-yard kickoff return following Michael Wymer's 10-yard TD pass reception from Benet junior quarterback Colin Gillespie with 8:46 left in the game making the score 17-12. That return would set up Garbicz's 34-yard field goal.

The all-important 2-point conversion failed on a incomplete pass. The Redwings misfired on all three attempts.

Jackson's other big play was tipping the ball away in the left corner of the end zone on the conversion play following Luke Flaska's 20-yard pass from Gillespie.

"This may sound crazy," said Jackson, "but last night I dreamed about making a play like this to end the game. This was just a great win for this team."

Grimmer put the Warriors ahead 7-0 on a 48-yard pass from Kentgen (13-for-31, 174 yards) with 17 seconds left in the first quarter to cap a 4-play, 59-yard drive set up by Jackson interception.

"I have to thank the offensive line for giving Danny time to throw," said Grimmer. "I had some good concentration on some of those plays. We handled some adversity in the second half and got the job done."

Benet, which had minus 8 rushing yards in the first half, came alive after the Warriors went ahead 17-0.

Mixing run and pass Benet went 73 yards in 9 plays to score on Gillespie's 21-yard run. Gillespie would rush for 51 yards in 11 attempts and connect on 16 of 27 passes for 185 yards and 1 interception.

"It took us more than a half to get going, that's for sure," said Benet coach Pat New. "We just had too many missed opportunities. I'm proud of the way they fought back but disappointed at they way we finished."

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