York breathes sigh of relief after win vs. Downers Grove North

 
By Bill Stone
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/14/2019 12:43 AM

Senior Josh Mathiesen and his 2018 York football teammates enjoyed an emotional Week 9 victory over Downers Grove North that eliminated the Trojans from playoff contention.

The Dukes' 28-26 victory at Downers North on Friday proved to be even more satisfying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

That goes double for Mathiesen, a starting offensive guard now also playing on the defensive line for the first time this season.

"I have to give kudos to them. They did really good. Honestly, at the end of the day it was who wanted it more and we've been working," Mathieson said.

"We call it fourth-quarter Fridays where we're pushing our butts off all Friday. At the end of the day, it was who wanted it more. In the trenches, that's how it is. It's been really close, tight games (for us). Not a lot of teams are used to that."

The Dukes (2-1) certainly had to earn this West Suburban Silver opener for both teams.

With 45.3 seconds left they blocked a 32-yard field goal attempt that would have given the Trojans (2-1) the lead.

Before that Mathiesen, Antonio Carillo and Liam Enright converged to stop Downers North standout quarterback Drew Cassens a yard short of the game-tying 2-point conversion with 7:26 left after an electrifying 42-yard TD run by Josh Lumpkin.

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York's first three games have been decided by a combined 11 points. Like the season-opening 16-13 overtime victory over Schaumburg, the Dukes overcame an early deficit Friday with a 21-point second quarter after the Trojans posted their seventh straight scoreless quarter.

"That's the great thing about the season. You learn as you go along. I think our kids have been in that situation in games and that really helped us out," York coach Mike Fitzgerald said.

"This league, it's tough. You enjoy it, but you've got to get right back to work. Our kids just learning how to win some tough games helps us as a program."

Downers North also showed grit, including back-to-back third-and-1 defensive stops in the fourth quarter to force punts.

"Our kids, they showed a lot of character," Downers North coach Joe Horeni said. "(York) probably should be 3-0. Their offensive line did a really nice job. This game doesn't define us, just as if we had made the field goal it wouldn't have defined us either."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Dukes ended the first half with a flurry in the final minute, tying the game 14-14 on a 3-yard run by Patrick Kastner followed by Hawely Bronson recovering an untouched ensuing kickoff at the 18. On the next play, quarterback Max Assaad hit Owen Pechous in stride in the end zone for a 21-14 halftime lead.

The Dukes then took the second half kickoff and went 60 yards in 12 plays -- including 11 of Nick Conroy's 34 carries for 168 yards -- with help from a fourth-and-3 offsides penalty for a first down at the 14. Backup quarterback Patrick Cote scored from the 1.

"We always talk about the most important minutes is the eight minutes at the end of the first half and right there in the second half," Fitzgerald said. "That was just a huge momentum swing. It was just a battle from there. That's a good football team."

Even on the blocked field goal, Horeni contended that the Trojans recovered the ball behind the original line of scrimmage and advanced it for a first down to retain possession. The officials ruled that the ball was recovered beyond the line and was thus a dead ball.

"Maybe we're wrong. It's just a bang-bang play. We certainly had a lot of other opportunities to take advantage of," Horeni said.

Cassens rushed for 177 yards and Lumpkin 111. Conroy was kept extra busy as Kastner left the game with an ankle injury.

"Usually it's split between me and Kastner. I kind of knew I was getting a lot of carries," Conroy said. "Our ground game was working well. Our offensive line was blocking great, a tremendous job and holes were opening up. I thanked them after every play."

Downers North scored on its opening drive with a 38-yard, fourth-and-2 TD end around run by sophomore Adam Criter.

York answered with a 4-yard run by Conroy, but after three straight three-and-outs, the Trojans pulled ahead again on Cassens' 90-yard TD run, his eighth rushing TD already this season.

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