St. Charles North holds on, beats WW South
The St. Charles North seniors had 36 seconds Saturday to solidify their unique moment in recent program history.
Wheaton Warrenville South had battled back from a 21-point deficit in the final 5 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter to be within a touchdown. The Tigers just forced the North Stars into a punt after stuffing Jordan Nubin for a 2-yard loss with about a minute to go.
North Stars senior defensive back Jimmy Durocher then found a shining moment to send off his fellow 25 seniors into their respective next chapters in life for an emotional 28-21 victory over the Tigers on Saturday at Northern Illinois' Huskie Stadium.
Tigers quarterback Parker Brown completed a short pass to Kaleb Clousing, who then tried to pitch it to running back Eddie Robinson, but the ball ended up on the ground.
Durocher was ready to pounce.
"I saw that ball come out of his hands," Durocher said of the game-winning recovery. "I knew I was recovering it. I was like: 'Finally.'"
The North Stars (4-1) ended their six-game scheduled slate with five games, as their Week 5 contest against Lake Park was wiped out due to COVID-19 protocols. St. Charles North, whose lone loss came to Batavia in Week 2, was one of two DuKane teams to finish with one loss along with Wheaton North, who St. Charles beat head-to-head.
"We played great as a team collectively," Durocher said. "I just love these guys to death. It's a good way to end. [This team means] everything. [It's] my last time playing football, probably, and I'm just so happy."
The North Stars took a 14-0 lead on a pair of Nubin rushing scores, but Brown found Tyler Fawcett for a 57-yard touchdown with 4:35 left in the first half to get within a score, where it remained at half.
Nubin visibly battled leg cramps throughout the contest, but still battled for 72 yards on 10 carries and 2 touchdowns.
"No matter what, I wouldn't come out of that game," Nubin said. "I'm going to get in as many plays as I can, man. My last game, I've got to get in as many plays as I can."
After trading punts to open the second half, North Stars quarterback Michael Priami hit senior wideout Steven Hein (3 catches, 34 yards) for a hard-fought 12-yard touchdown pass in tight coverage for a 21-7 advantage with 5:30 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers scored an apparent 65-yard touchdown on their next play, but a pair of flags wiped it out and they were eventually forced to punt.
On the ensuing North Stars' series, Drew Surges barged into the end zone for a 2-yard score and 28-7 lead to open the fourth quarter. Surges had all five carries on the drive and finished with 32 yards.
Brown, Robinson and the rest of the Tigers had plenty left in the tank for a spirited comeback.
With 3:28 remaining, Brown found Clousing for a 20-yard touchdown. The Tigers forced a punt and Robinson followed up with a 1-yard rushing score to make it 28-21 North Stars before Durocher's decisive game-preserving recovery.
"[This win] is the character of these seniors," North Stars coach Rob Pomazak said. "These young men are just tremendous. They just never stop fighting; they're good kids. And, to get out to an early lead really helped to give you a little wiggle room. You know [The Tigers] are going to keep fighting. Of course, you'd like just to end the game and dominate, but that's a really good football [team].
"Give Wheaton South a ton of credit, they never stopped fighting, either. [Coach] Ron Muhitch is a mentor of mine and I just think the world of him and his players. I'm just so proud of this moment for our kids because our seniors, they absolutely deserve this. This is going to be something they'll never forget."
Priami went 10-for-22 for 126 yards and one touchdown for the North Stars. Josh Bridges had 13 rushing yards.
For the Tigers, Brown capped off his high school career 24-for-40 with 252 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. Robinson had 26 yards on 15 carries. Clousing had 8 catches for 61 yards and a touchdown.
"That's a good sign of the senior class is that they are competitors and they do not give up," Muhitch said on the comeback. "(St. Charles North] pounded us at the line of scrimmage. To their credit, they came out with Nubin in the first series and ran it down our throat. Pretty much kept us at bay ... we just couldn't make stops against a really good line.
"We struggled hanging onto the football it looked like to me a little bit offensively. They did a great job of stopping us. [North Stars Defensive Coordinator] Rick [Magsamen] and Rob do a great job together. Rick does a great job on the defense ... I think that's the best defensive front in the [DuKane] conference, quite frankly."