Closer this time, but West Aurora topples South Elgin again
West Aurora won its first playoff game in 24 years Saturday night but South Elgin did not make it easy.
The Storm, which was routed by the Blackhawks 48-10 in last Friday's regular season finale, turned this game into a real nail-biter.
West Aurora's 28-20 home win was not decided until the final play of the game.
With 21 seconds left to play, a 37-yard touchdown pass from Storm quarterback Azxavier Salinas to Cristopher Mejia-Gomez cut the Blackhawks' lead to 28-20.
South Elgin recovered the ensuing onside kick. West Aurora's defense thwarted Salinas' three straight passes -- the last one as time expired -- and prevented the Storm from tying the game.
"Its been since 1994, definitely a big hump for the program," said West Aurora coach Nate Eimer of the Class 8A win.
"I think South Elgin came out ready to go. They were very well coached and I thought they did a really nice job getting their team ready. I think our kids battled and they hung in there."
The Blackhawks relied on their ground game to secure the win. Of the team's 329 total yards, 242 were gained on the ground. Hezekiah Salter (83 yards on 13 carries) and JaQuan Buchanan (79 yards on 12 carries) grounded out most of the yardage.
"We got into the position in the second half where we felt like our defense is going to stop them so we just wanted to take some time off the clock," said Eimer.
He credited the defense for keeping South Elgin at bay.
"Defensively we were pretty darn good," Eimer said.
West Aurora (9-1) scored on its second possession of the game to take the lead 7-0 with 2:50 left in the first quarter. Tight end Derek Dodson was all alone in the left corner of the end zone to catch a 17-yard pass from quarterback William Tammaru.
South Elgin (6-4) got on the scoreboard as time expired in the first frame. Salinas lateraled to Shiking Marshall who first swept right and then reversed to the left and sprinted 51 yards for the score. South Elgin was unable to tie the game as the PAT failed.
The Blackhawks widened their lead to 14-6 late in the second quarter. With 2:46 left in the half, Buchanan scampered 24 yards to cross the goal line.
Another Tammaru throw was caught by Aaron Jankovsky in the third quarter, extending West Aurora's lead to 21-6. The junior wide receiver had to jump between two South Elgin defenders in the end zone to catch the pass.
A 2-yard Salinas keeper made the score 21-13 with 6:42 left in the third quarter.
Buchanan scored the Blackhawks' last TD on a 14-yard run with 1:40 left to play.