Larkin overtakes Fenton in 2nd half, snaps 2-game skid
When the starting kickoff for Fenton's Upstate Eight Conference contest versus Larkin was moved up by over an hour due to a cancellation of the lower-level game Thursday, both squads appeared not to be phased by the time change.
Instead, the two teams with a combined 1-7 record played like that mark was completely opposite as they battled one another in a back-and-forth battle at the Bison's 2023 home, the field at the George Jorndt Athletic Complex at Triton College in River Grove.
The visitors from Elgin's West Side emerged victorious 24-14.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak for a Larkin (2-3, 2-3) unit which had been shutout in those setbacks to Glenbard South and South Elgin.
The Royals had spotted Fenton (0-5, 0-5) a 14-6 lead with 2:54 remaining until halftime as Bison QB Nathan Stewart (12-20 passing, 126 yards) scored on a 2-yard TD run in the first and then found Maverick Murguia on a 45-yard pass play that saw that saw the pigskin slip through a Larkin defender into the senior's hands for their final points of the evening.
Larkin pulled to within 14-12 on a 22-yard scoring strike from sophomore Aden Mora to Terrence Boone with 36 ticks left in the half. Mora (7-13 passing, 149 yards) previously got them on the board with a 64-yard TD toss to Erick Myrick.
It was their opening possession of the second half that gave them the lead for good when Mora took it in from the 3 at the 8:09 mark giving the Royals an 18-14 advantage which they took into the fourth.
It would be just 31 ticks into that final stanza of play where the game's big play took place. Fenton had driven to the Royals' 11-yard line when Larkin senior defensive back Damani Cannon picked Stewart off in the end zone and then proceeded to run it back 103 yards to give them a 10-point cushion at 24-14.
"When the (ball) snapped, I took my read steps," said Cannon, who snared another pick later on in the fourth. "I saw the (formation) and then I (saw) the QB looking at his target and I hopped in front of him and then (after intercepting the pass) I took off."
Angell Santana also recovered a Bison fumble on the Royals' 31 to quell another Fenton scoring threat.
First-year Larkin coach Vincent Ray feels that his team hasn't even begun to scratch the surface of reaching their potential. The Royals head home to Elgin Memorial Field where it will play their next three games against East Aurora and Bartlett and as technically the road team vs. rival Elgin.
"Are we there? Not even close. This is a very talented team and we have to live up to the expectations and talent that they have," Ray said.
"The second half they kind of turned it around and started giving me more of what it was (that) I was looking for."