St. Charles East rallies late to beat Batavia
Lightning struck on a clear night in Batavia.
Trailing the state-ranked Bulldogs by 6 points with under two minutes to play Friday, St. Charles East sophomore quarterback Nathan Hayes connected with senior receiver Nathan Hull on a 64-yard touchdown pass on third-and-10.
Jackson Erminio's extra point gave the Saints a 30-29 lead and that's how a seesaw thriller ended after Batavia fumbled the ensuing kickoff, got the ball back with 32 seconds left and threw 4 incomplete passes.
"We ran a double post with a wheel," Hayes said of the game-winner. "It was the same play as the one before. Our offensive line did a great job."
"We knew it could be open and he threw a great ball to me," Hull said. "I caught it and I just took off with it."
Hayes completed 14 of 28 passes for 211 yards and 3 touchdowns, all to Hull, a 6-foot-3, 160-pound receiver who finished with 6 receptions for 147 yards.
"Hull came back when he had two drops and made a big catch for a touchdown and converted," Saints coach Bryce Farquhar said. "It was great to see a kid who has so much potential be able to do that."
As for his sophomore signal caller?
"He's playing like the best quarterback in the conference right now," Farquhar said.
The DuKane Conference victory lifts St. Charles East (6-1, 4-1) into a three-way tie for first place with Batavia (5-2, 4-1) and Glenbard North (4-3, 4-1), which defeated St. Charles North 33-14 Friday.
"It's an amazing feeling," said 6-foot-5, 300-pound St. Charles East offensive lineman Dylan Barrett, committed to Wisconsin. "It means so much to us as a team and as a coaching staff. In order to be the best, you've got to beat the best. They are so well coached and they have great players on both sides of the ball, so it was a big win tonight."
The Saints led 10-7 at the half, thanks to Erminio's 47-yard field goal with 1:43 left in the second quarter.
They then built a 23-7 third-quarter lead. Hull made a 33-yard catch that set up his 9-yard scoring reception two plays later. They settled for a 16-7 lead after Erminio's kick hit the right upright.
Junior defensive end Logan Flesch then tipped and intercepted a Batavia pass on the next play from scrimmage and returned it 12 yards to the 10-yard line.
"I just put my hand up to block the pass," Flesch said. "I didn't realize the ball went up like that until I saw it above my head."
That interception helped the Saints win the turnover battle 3-0.
"They played well but we could not have aided their victory more than we did," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "And I feel bad for some of the kids involved because they've been the same ones that have done so much for us and have really been the heart and soul of this team."
Cole Conn rushed three times until he scored on a 3-yard run, staking the Saints to a 23-7 lead with 6:14 left in the third quarter.
Momentum flipped like a pancake in the fourth quarter. Batavia scored on three straight possessions.
Quinn Urwiler found the end zone on a 4-yard run and Kyle Oroni threw the conversion pass to Art Taylor to make it 23-15 with 8:57 left.
Oroni found junior Nolan Lewis all alone for a 39-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-8 with 6:50 left. The conversion run failed so the Buldogs still trailed 23-21.
Batavia's defense forced another punt and the offense drove 56 yards in 8 plays, including 6 rushed by Urwiler for 47 yards. Oroni's quarterback sneak gave Batavia it's first lead since the second quarter with 2:37 to play.
Farquhar said he and his coaches allowed the Bulldogs to score on the play "so we could have a few more seconds." Meanwhile, he then rallied Hayes on he sideline.
"Coach brought me aside and said 'If they score, we're going to get a chance to win it,'" Hayes said. "I took it to heart and got the guys going on the sideline and tried to stay warm as best we could. We took the scheme and ran with it and it turned out amazing."