One sudden change lifts Maine South past Warren
One sudden change made all the difference in a defensive struggle.
In the final minute of the first half against top-ranked Warren, No. 5 Maine South went from defending its end zone to scoring the game's only touchdown and held on for a 10-2 victory in Gurnee.
Warren was at the Maine South 22-yard line with less than a minute remaining in the second quarter, looking to add to a 2-0 lead. Quarterback Aidan Lucero tossed a pass into the end zone, where he had a one-on-one matchup. Hawks corner Tommy Locascio came down with it, started running and got all the way past midfield.
"I knew I had a chance to make a play on the ball," Locascio said. "Our coaches are always big on high-pointing the ball, that's exactly what I did. As soon as I caught it, I saw the open space, saw the sideline and I knew I had to hit it, give our team a chance to make something happen on offense and that's exactly what we did."
On the next play, quarterback Rowan Keefe found a wide-open Mike Sajenko down the right sideline and he went in for a 46-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds left in the first half.
Maine South ran just 12 offensive plays in the first half, with two first downs, but that sudden change swung the momentum for good.
"I basically let Chris Petrucci let his route set up, because it's a cross," Sajenko said. "He took the corner into the safety and I just went right around them."
Warren's offense got within striking distance a few times. Running back Maurice Edwards finished with 131 yards on 28 carries. But the more a drive or the game carried on, the tougher it was for the Blue Devils to execute their bread-and-butter power runs up the middle.
"We were forced to throw it and we weren't in position to be successful at it," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. "We better get a lot better in the throw game if we're going to be successful. That's not on our quarterback or anything else, that's on me and I've just got to get it done with those guys."
Lucero completed 8 of 18 passes for 59 yards. Keefe went 12 for 25 for 160 yards. Maine South goes five wide most every snap and didn't attempt a run play until the second half.
Warren got on the board during a brief rain shower in the first half when a punt snap sailed into the end zone for a safety.
"We just made some mistakes, really," Edwards said. "Just crucial mistakes at crucial times. We're just going to practice to fix everything. Come back, revenge tour, happy it's Week 2 and not Week 10. We're going to see them again and the offense is going to be different."
Warren had 2 touchdowns called back by penalty. They completed a pass into the end zone off a deflection, but an obvious holding penalty called that one back.
With Maine South backed up near its end zone in the third quarter, Jaden Turner's pick-six was nullified by an offside penalty.