Fremd storms back to beat Hersey

Updated 4/23/2021 11:47 PM

Iron Will.

It's become a legendary motto in Fremd football lore.


Friday night in Palatine, it was never more evident.

Trailing 28-0 with under a minute to play in the first half, the Vikings scored their first touchdown on Archie Cox's 10-yard catch from quarterback Caiden Suchy and then completed the stunning comeback in the second half for a thrilling 36-35 triumph over Hersey in the Mid-Suburban League third-place crossover.

"I think that was an Iron Will performance," said Fremd coach Lou Sponsel. "When I was a senior (1995) for coach (Mike) Donatucci (now the defensive coordinator for Hersey), Iron Will was kind of born back then. These kids grow up hearing those words and seeing them on shirts when they're kids. I think this was a true display of what Iron Will is when you're down 28-0 and regroup and go one drive at a time, one play at a time and one fight at a time. You just chip away at it and that's what the kids did and it was fun."

It marked the final game for retiring Fremd offensive coordinator Steve Patton after 27 seasons.

"That's Dave Hochstetter calling the plays tonight." said a gracious Patton. "That was incredible. I don't remember a comeback like that. You couldn't have written a better script (for his last game). That's a tribute to the whole team and to senior Ryan Saxe (injured quarterback, who had to miss the final two weeks). He was coaching for us on the sidelines and did an incredible job."

Three touchdowns by Ben Clawson (1-yard run and 15 and 3-yard TD receptions from Jimmy Makuh) along with an 8-yard TD run by Ben Randall put Hersey ahead 28-0 with 4:35 left in the half.

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Fremd (4-2) got to within 28-14 on Taytum Carmichael's 46-yard TD run with 10:11 in the third quarter.

Running behind linemen Jack Walsh, Donny Carl, Kevin Busse, Brian Clay and Jake Morel, the junior running back Carmichael gained 238 yards from 22 carries and also had a big sack on defense.

Suchy's 4-yard TD run made it 28-21 before Makuh's 4-yard run up the middle increased the lead for Hersey (3-3) back to 35-21 with 3:05 left.

Carmichael opened the final quarter with a 55-yard burst to make it 35-27 when Sponsel called for the 'Charlie Brown' play, a fake extra point attempt and hand off to Greg Harmon for 2 points making it 35-29 with 11:19 left.

"We named it Charlie Brown because Lucy always pulled the football away from Charlie Brown," Sponsel said. "We knew then we would only need an extra point at the end to win."


Sure enough, following a big 37-yard punt return by Carmichael that gave the Vikes the ball at the Huskies 30-yard line with 1:27 left, Fremd needed only 4 plays to score, getting a 3-yard run by Suchy.

And then came the biggest extra point of Jack Graba's career.

"Honestly, I was not nervous at all," Graba said. "That's all I do in practice, kick field goals. So I was really confident and I've got to congratulate my teammates. They did great."

" I was thinking that we had to come out in the second half and get a win for our seniors," Carmichael said.

"Our special teams were phenomenal," Sponsel added. "We spend a lot of time on them and they're so important in our program. The kids went out and executed. Our defense and offense bounced back in the second half. That's what this group is. They are fighters and they stick with it. They wanted to win for each other."

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