Big plays send St. Charles East past Geneva
Nathan Hayes saw press coverage and made a quick decision.
With time winding down in the first half and backed up deep in his own territory, the St. Charles East senior quarterback wanted to make a play for his team.
A deep ball found the hands of Mason Tousignant for an 86-yard score to propel the Saints to a 28-20 victory, holding off Geneva in the final minutes of the DuKane Conference victory.
The score was the first of two touchdown connections between Hayes and Tousignant, who hooked up on St. Charles East's first possession of the second half for another long score.
"We've been building trust as the season has gone along," Hayes said of his relationship with Tousignant. "He's made some plays in practice and have kept building that relationship. They pressed up on him, I knew he had the ability to beat the corner, and the rest is history."
The long score before the break gave the Saints a 14-6 halftime advantage, which they soon built up to 21-6 after Hayes stepped up in the pocket to find Tousignant for his second and final catch of the night for a 47-yard TD.
Saints coach Bryce Farquhar has been waiting for his team to play a complete 48 minutes. While Geneva was driving in the final minutes in search of yet another come-from-behind victory this season, it was the St. Charles East defense and lineman Tyler Risberg that made the stop on fourth down.
"Our defense played phenomenal tonight," Farquhar said. "I think the coaches on that side of the ball have worked so hard with that group and it paid off tonight. They forced some turnovers, made some plays when we needed it most and everything really came together tonight."
Risberg's tackle for loss on 4th-and-2 from the Saints 7-yard line to stop Geneva running back Carter Powelson in the backfield put an exclamation mark on St. Charles East's biggest victory of the year.
Freddie Dowel also forced a fumble with a big hit on Powelson in the second half to aid the Saints (2-4, 1-4 DuKane Conference) defensive effort Friday night.
"We were in a rough spot, persevered and continued to fight and practice hard," Tousignant said "Our defense made plays when it needed to most. Our homecoming got ruined last week [losing to Wheaton Warrenville South] so we figured we would ruin [Geneva's]."
"Earlier in the season, we didn't have that mental toughness," said Hayes of his team's ability to make a stop late. "[Risberg] made a huge stop for us there. He kept everybody up and just a huge stop for us to propel us to victory."
It wasn't completely over after Risberg's stop. The Saints still had to run the clock out and Hayes's quarterback keeper on 3rd-and-7 for a 14-yard run sealed the victory.
Hayes completed just 8-of-17 passes for 180 yards and those two touchdowns. He also ran for 50 yards on nine carries. Trent Matejko scored twice on the ground for St. Charles East.
Geneva (4-2, 3-1), which rallied from 16 points down in the fourth quarter to beat St. Charles North in overtime the week before, dug itself too deep of a hole early in the third quarter. Touchdowns from Powelson, Tyler Costello and Tyler Tuisl weren't enough for quarterback Alex Porter and the Vikings.
Tuisl led the way offensively with 11 catches for 98 yards and his score, while Porter finished the night 25-of-31 passing for 210 yards. Porter also completed 12 straight passes at one point in the second half for Geneva.