Cyr, Pettis-Taylor combo pushes Hoffman Estates past T.F. South

 
By Lou Nunez Jr.
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/29/2021 11:27 PM

As Thornton Fractional South conducted its final practice in preparation for its contest vs. Hoffman Estates, a special guest made an surprise appearance. A hawk flew in and perched itself just a few yards away from coach Bob Padjen's team.

"I didn't notice it at first until my players told me," Padjen said, with a laugh. "It's our playoff hawk who comes over to bring us luck."

 

Unfortunately for T.F. South, that luck ran out. The visitors from Lansing saw a mid-third-quarter lead go by the wayside after Hoffman Estates scored 20 of the game's final 26 points to record a 34-26 win at Garber Stadium in Class 7A first-round playoff action Friday.

Twelfth-seeded Hoffman Estates (8-2) will make the trek to No. 4 Wheaton North (9-1) next weekend in the second round. The Falcons shut out No. 29 seed Larkin 42-0 at home Friday.

"We knew that they had some dudes on their team," Hoffman Estates Head Coach Tim Heyse said. "A lot of them play both ways. We talked about wearing them down and getting the running game going with Yashua Pettis-Taylor. I am proud of everyone."

The 6-foot-1-inch Pettis-Taylor (35 carries, 208 yards) along with junior quarterback Aidan Cyr (17-for-21, 203 yards) served as co-catalysts for Hoffman coming back from a 14-7 halftime deficit. Cyr's second of 4 TD passes found Stephen Sellers from 14 yards out to knot it up at 14, only to have T.F. South's Ernest Temple pick off Cyr on the Hawks' next possession and run it back 54 yards, giving his team its final lead of the game with 6:43 left in the third quarter.

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Cyr marched Hoffman Estates down the field on a 20-play, 61-yard drive that ended when Pettis-Taylor took it in from 7 yards out on to give the Hawks the lead for good with 4:01 left in the third (21-20).

"Cyr threw that pick-six (and) he didn't hang his head down," Heyse noted. "He kept fighting."

After Cyr's third TD toss, and second to Jashawn Johnson (7 yards), expanded the Hawks' lead to 28-20 with 8:43 to play, 20th-seeded T.F. South (6-4) closed within 28-26 on a 33-yard Jacob Uridales pass that found Brandon Woods with 7:05 left, but his 2-point pass attempt to tie the game was broken up by Kylan Blue in the end zone.

Cyr's fourth and final TD pass found Julian Bonilla on the following drive to make it 34-26 with 2:17 left, setting the stage for T.F. South's last possession that got it all the way to the Hawks' 25 where Pettis-Taylor picked off Uridales in the end zone with to preserve the win with 16 seconds left.

"I saw the quarterback (Uridales) look to his left and I cheated on the play and got up there and sealed the game," Pettis-Taylor explained.

Temple led T.F. South with 223 yards on 37 carries in the losing effort that saw both teams negotiate a field that had been deluged by rain over the previous 24 hours.

"It was slippery, but our coaches told us to keep our heads down and push," Pettis-Taylor said.

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