Downers Grove North rallies from 11 down to stun unbeaten Hersey
The Hersey football team stifled Downers Grove North's run attack, and made several big plays on offense. The Trojans, however, managed to stay within striking distance throughout the Class 7A second round playoff game Saturday in Arlington Heights.
With the passing attack getting in sync in the second half, Downers Grove North erased a two-score deficit to defeat previously undefeated Hersey 24-21, moving on to play Lincoln-Way West in the Class 7A quarterfinals next weekend.
"I am so, so proud of our seniors showing our younger kids what it means to fight through adversity," said Downers Grove North coach Joe Horeni, whose team will be playing in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2013. "Our game plan was to run the ball and they did a fantastic job of shutting that down. Our receivers and our quarterback played a hell of a game. He (QB Owen Lansu) deserves a scholarship right now. He put the ball on the money multiple times and stood in the pocket against a really good defense."
Lansu, a sophomore, had second half touchdown passes of 30 and 41 yards to Owen Thulin and Oliver Thulin to put the Trojans ahead. Lansu threw for 187 yards, 166 of those coming in the second half.
"Getting the easy stuff turning into the bigger plays," Lansu said about what it took to get the passing game going. "We had our quick game and that opens up our deep game and our run game. It just helps our offense move in general."
Noah Battle had the Trojans' other touchdown and Antonio Kollintzas kicked a 28-yard field goal.
For the Huskies, it's the second year in a row they have lost in the second round of the playoffs after completing an undefeated regular season.
"We're here to compete for a title," Hersey coach Tom Nelson said. "Credit to the kids for being that successful during the regular season, but we did not accomplish our mission and only one team will in 7A. Overall, as a season, I think it is one of the best in Hersey history."
Logan Farrell was all over the field for the Huskies, catching touchdowns of 18 and 6 yards. He also had a sack and knocked down several of Lansu's passes.
With his playmaking, Hersey led 14-3 at the half. The Huskies were dominant on the defensive line, holding Battle to 13 yards rushing in the half and 56 for the game.
"Obviously it wasn't going the way we wanted it to," said senior cornerback Jameson Ordway about going into the half trailing. "But we were with each other. We are all brothers. We were not going to let this end badly. We stayed tight and we just did our thing."
Owen Thulin scored the Trojans' first touchdown on his team's first drive of the second half.
The Huskies answered back with Carson Grove hauling in a 76-yard pass to extend their lead. However, that would be the last time Hersey would score. Ordway had an interception and Downers Grove North finished with 14 unanswered points.
"I am proud of our kids' grit," Horeni said. "You are down 14-3 against an undefeated team at halftime, you go out and get a stop and get a score and then they score a 76-yard touchdown pass and our kids kept in it and kept fighting. Unbelievable job."