St. Charles East forces 6 turnovers to beat St. Charles North
St. Charles East converted take-aways into points to knock off St. Charles North 31-21 in DuKane Conference action at Norris Stadium Friday.
Winning the turnover battle 6-3 lifted St. Charles East (5-1, 3-1) past the North Stars (4-2, 3-1) for the first time since 2016.
The Saints led 24-21 after a wild first half that saw them take a 17-0 lead only to see the North Stars storm back to grab a 21-17 advantage.
East scored the only touchdown of the second half when Cole Conn scored on a 4-yard run with 10:05 remaining to capitalize on senior linebacker Cody Cotteleer's interception at the North 17-yard line.
"I think the story of the game was our offensive line coming in and being able to close things out," Saints coach Bryce Farquhar said. "Our defense created the turnovers. We played good team football. Our offensive line created some gaps in order to convert those into points and that rolled into the second half."
Workhorse senior running back Conn carried 29 times for 152 yards and scored a career-high 4 touchdowns by cutting behind his big, physical offensive line of seniors Dylan Barrett, Alex Cox and Eduardo Mancera, junior Brock Donati and sophomore Tyler Risberg.
"Offensively we sputtered," St. Charles North coach Rob Pomazak said of his team's inability to score after halftime. "And defensively their offensive line manhandled us. We have to go back to work, though. We're got three more games and we have to win two of the three to get in."
St. Charles East senior Gino Cerrone intercepted 2 passes to stop the North Stars' first two drives and Cotteleer recovered a fumble to set the offense up for a field goal and a pair of short touchdown runs by Conn.
The North Stars answered with a 65-yard pass from Kyler Brown to Ryan Thiesse and pulled within 17-14 via an 8-yard scoring run by Nick DeMarco that capped a drive kept alive by a roughing the kicker call against the Saints on a missed field goal.
Junior linebacker Jimmy Durocher gave St. Charles North its only lead when he picked off Kyle Hayes at the Saints' 39-yard line and returned it for a touchdown. Jack Drummer's extra point staked North to a 21-17 lead with 2:08 left in the second quarter.
"Our defense struggled at first going down 17-0," said Durocher, who finished with 3 interceptions, "but we stepped up defensively later in the game."
After a kickoff return to midfield, St. Charles East drove 47 yards in 6 plays, helped by a pass interference call. Conn's 3-yard scoring run up the middle with 16 seconds left in the second quarter put his team ahead for good.
After a Nick Schumann interception with five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Saints' offense killed the clock with an 11-play drive that featured 9 runs by Conn.
The St. Charles East win sets up a key matchup next week at Batavia (6-0, 4-0), which defeated Geneva 42-0.
"Now we're playoff eligible," Conn said. "That's really what we were going for, the ultimate goal. Now, it's next week. We're looking forward to next week. (Saturday) we move on and focus on Batavia and try to get a conference championship under our belt."