Classic game doesn't go WW South's way in the end
Khary Shaw had one thought.
"Can't lose," said Shaw, moments after Brother Rice survived 27-26 in the Class 7A opening round playoff game against Wheaton Warrenville South on Saturday.
The 24th-seeded Tigers had just come within 1 point of the ninth-seeded Crusaders at 27-26 with 46 seconds left after a 59 -- yard deep strike from quarterback Matt Sommerdyke to Reece Young.
It came 40 seconds after Brother Rice QB Jack Lausch had given the Crusaders a 27-20 lead with an 8-yard rushing score.
The Tigers, on the road, with their senior quarterback who had not practiced all week due to a dislocated finger, sprained ankle and a separated right throwing shoulder -- sustained last week -- trusted their leader to make one more throw on a 2-point conversion that could've won the game.
Sommerdyke had Quentin Spencer open for a brief moment over the middle of the field. Shaw, however, made his move for a deflection.
"I saw him; I thought I was late," Shaw said. "I thought I wasn't going to make the play, but I did. I'm happy I played the hands. My coach always tells me: 'Play the hands; play the hands. I got beat one time [earlier]. I played the hands again, so I just trusted playing the hands."
The Crusaders, taking a kneel-down to end the game, advanced to play at Yorkville in next week's second round.
But not without a fight.
"We had the momentum. We knew we had a good play that we liked," WW South coach Sean Norris said on the 2-point try. "And, we thought 'Hey, let's just go for it.' We knew an overtime situation was going to be in that same type of [scenario]."
The Tigers, who had negative-1 fourth quarter rushing yards at that point, opted for Sommerdyke's arm in the do-or-die situation.
"We thought let's put it in our quarterback's hands that we know and we trust and let's go win the game," Norris said. "We did it against Wheaton North and we wanted to be aggressive there and do the same thing."
Waking up Saturday morning, Sommerdyke questioned whether he could even play.
"[My Dad told me]: 'If you don't play, you'll regret it the rest of your life because it's the last game you'll ever play on the field," Sommerdyke said. "'You'll be watching in the stands the rest of your life. Coming out here, the team doctors got me right and I'm just blessed I could come out here and play my last couple snaps with all my guys."
Sommerdyke was 18-for-30 for 253 passing yards with 2 TDs.
"Just so much heart and grit from all of them, but especially Matt," Norris said. "Matt didn't practice all week. He was going to be a game-time decision, but showed so much heart. His shoulder was killing him. Every throw was ... he battled through it ... Reece Young is a special player ... our defensive coaches had a phenomenal game plan against these guys."
" ... I told these guys: 'No regrets,'" Norris continued. "There was no regrets from that effort that they gave us, which was phenomenal."
Young took the opening kickoff 96-yards to the house to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead 12 seconds into the game. Lausch connected with Jack Botta for a 20-yard score with 7:06 in the second quarter, but the 2-point conversion attempt failed.
After Young intercepted Lausch, Sommerdyke hit Brandon Bell for a 48 yard flea-flicker touchdown to take the 14-6 lead. Lausch responded with a 1-yard touchdown run and converted the two-point try on a completion to Luke Murphy to tie the game at 14-14, where it remained to halftime.
The Tigers retook the lead on a 6-yard rushing score from Spencer on their first third quarter possession. The extra point was blocked to keep it 20-14.
Lausch again responded with a 6-yard score, but the extra point was also blocked to sustain the tie 20-20 with three minutes left in the third quarter.
WW South missed a field goal two possessions later, but a Brother Rice penalty sustained the drive. They missed another one three plays later.
Lausch, with 1:21 left in the contest, finished a 11-play drive with his 8-yard scoring run to set the table for the hear -- racing finish in the final minute.
Lausch finished 13-of-26 for 171 passing yards, 140 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns. Lausch was intercepted twice. Aaron Vaughn had 96 rushing yards.
"That was a great game," said Lausch, committed to play baseball and football at Notre Dame, the latter as a preferred walk-on. "They were a really tough team. They played great. They played to the last whistle. I'm proud of the way we fought; the way we kind of dealt with some adversity. Moving on, but I'm proud of the way we fought tonight, for sure."
So was Sommerdyke.
" ... Throwing that two-point conversion, I had no doubt Quentin was going to catch it," Sommerdyke said. "But, sometimes, you come up one play short. While no one in the state thought we were going to come out here and compete to the wire; they all were saying it's going to be a blow out and we had the toughest draw, but I think [we did anyway] through the season and how good the DuKane Conference really is."
Entering Saturday, Brother Rice had scored more than 40 points or more in every game this season. Their defense, however, made the play to ultimately win the game.
"It's a team game; team effort," Lausch continued. "It was a great team win and great team fight tonight."