Warren rallies in fourth quarter to upend Maine South
Warren and Maine South have a history of not giving the scoreboard much of a workout, at least when facing each other.
Last year when the teams met for the clash of 8A state powers in Gurnee, the Hawks won 10-2 in a game dominated by defense.
As the scene moved to Park Ridge on Friday, the teams actually moved the ball reasonably well during a scoreless first half, but couldn't reach the end zone.
The offenses finally converted. Maine South opened a 10-0 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Warren rallied for 3 touchdowns in the final 11 minutes to pull out a 19-17 comeback victory.
The Hawks lost senior quarterback Ryan Leyden in the second quarter to an apparent left shoulder injury, but managed to build a lead with junior Jack DeFillipis.
A momentum-changer happened right after Maine South's first touchdown. Warren RB Charley Thompson had been bottled up all game, with 28 yards on his first 11 carries. But after a Maine South touchdown, Thompson broke loose on the left side and sprinted for an 80-yard touchdown to get Warren on the board.
"The O-line gave me a little hole, I squeaked through," Thompson said. "I told them if I get to the second level, we're gone and we did. We were gone. It feels great. These guys, they stormed our field last year. We came into this game with the energy to keep going and we did."
Trailing 10-6, North Dakota State commit Jailen Duffie made two big plays in a row. First he snared a leaping interception, then caught a 28-yard rainbow from QB Adam Behrens in the back of the end zone to put Warren ahead with 9:29 left.
"To be honest, I didn't think I was in myself, but seeing the referee put the hands up and I was good," Duffie said. "Big moments like this, we're going to keep fighting. We ain't giving up. We're going to keep going."
After Warren's Liam Wiley blocked a punt, Behrens converted a fourth-and-10 pass to junior Brian Strelzyk, setting up a Justin Kretz 2-yard run on fourth down for the clinching TD with 2:56 left.
Maine South scored with 31.3 seconds on the clock when DeFillipis threw his second TD pass, an 11-yarder to Sean Mullan. Warren's Donovan McNeal recovered the onside kick for the clincher.
"We found some offense," Maine South coach Dave Inserra said. "Jack stepped in at quarterback, under fire, against probably the best defense in the state, right? Year in and year out, they're unbelievable. He hung in there, he did a great job."
Leyden's legs created the Hawks' biggest gain of the first half. On the opening drive, just as a Warren safety rushed to the line of scrimmage on a blitz, Leyden broke through the line, into the vacated space and gained 44 yards, setting up a first-and-goal at the 9.
Maine South scored a touchdown, but was called for offensive pass interference. Then on fourth down, Duffie blocked Sam Taglia's 29-yard field goal attempt and Warren took over.
The Blue Devils also recorded a first-and-goal on their opening drive, but a personal foul penalty moved the ball back to the 30 and Warren turned it over on downs. Just before halftime, Warren drove inside the 10 again, but couldn't convert on fourth down from the 4.
To start the third quarter, Maine South found a couple of simple plays to give the offense confidence. DeFillipis dumped a pass in the flat to sophomore Michael Dellumo for 18 yards, then Dellumo gained 16 on a draw. Eventually, Taglia nailed a 31-yard field goal for the game's first points at the 5:57 mar k of the third quarter.
Dellumo took a screen pass across the goal line for a 13-yard touchdown, putting the Hawks up 10-0 early in the fourth quarter.
"It's Week 2. We called it a playoff game. Good thing is, we're not going home," Inserra said. "We get to play next week, unlike a playoff game. We'll learn from it."