A special victory for Domschke, Neuqua Valley vs. Naperville North
You can add special, special teams play to Palmer Domschke's already varied list of accomplishments on the football field for Neuqua Valley.
The talented kicker regularly blasts touchbacks into the end zone, booms punts deep down the field, and seems to be in on just about every tackle from his linebacker spot on a stout Wildcats defense.
But Friday night at Naperville North, Domschke turned what looked to be a disastrous potential blocked punt into a 51-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Just when it appeared as if Huskie defender Jayson Shumate had a beat on a punt block, Domschke side stepped the rush and took off down the left sideline.
His special play was the biggest of the night as Neuqua Valley improved to 4-0 on the year with a 21-7 DuPage Valley Conference road win in Naperville.
"I saw they were overloaded on my left, so I let them think I was going to punt it and I just sort of took off," the senior said. "Some people said we were going to lose this game. Don't get me wrong, Naperville North's a good program, but we're a better program."
Powered by another big play in the first half, Neuqua Valley jumped ahead 14-0 in the first half.
In the second quarter junior quarterback Mark Mennecke avoided the pass rush, rolled left and fired a bullet to Josh Wenz for a 47-yard score.
Mennecke, who later added a short touchdown run in the second half, credited Domschke's big play with jump-starting the team to victory.
"Palmer's play was a momentum changer for sure," the junior quarterback said of the long touchdown run on the punt play. "He saw something and he took off and that's the fastest I ever saw him run. He was blazing."
To the Huskies' credit, after getting down two scores the hosts answered with an 80-yard drive to close to within a touchdown. Luke Williams made a nice leaping grab for 35 yards that set the stage for Aidan Gray's 6-yard keeper with 5:45 left in the half.
The Wildcats looked primed to add to that lead before halftime, but David Jones picked off Mennecke inside the 5-yard in the final minute of the half to keep the score 14-7.
The Huskies (1-3, 0-1) then had a nice drive going in the third quarter before a lost fumble thwarted that drive and the Wildcats defense stiffened the rest of the way.
"Palmer's a special player. I wish I could say I called that, but that was all him," Neuqua Valley coach Bill Ellinghaus said. "He sees the field so well and he's such a smart player. I knew when he took off that he was going to at least get the first down."
Danny Eloe gained 69 yards on 18 carries for the Huskies, and Luke Williams had three catches for 41 yards, but Naperville North could manage only the Gray 6-yard touchdown run.
"We played a lot harder this week, which I was impressed with," Huskies coach Sean Drendel said. "We've just got to get to the point where we flip that switch and take off. We're close and I think we can be a very good football team before the season is over."