Downers North football will remember the feeling of heartbreaking quarterfinal loss
|Downers Grove North senior running back Brandon Salter (24) rushes into the end zone to tie the game at 20-20 during a Class 7A quarterfinal game against Benet on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. Staff photo by Matthew Piechalak (Matthew Piechalak)|
There’s not much you can get done in three seconds — 3.4 to be exact.
Winning a football game is one of them.
With just over three seconds on the game clock and Benet’s football team facing second and goal from the Downers Grove North 5-yard line, Jack Beneventi hit Jack Toner in the back of the end zone for a game-winning touchdown with no time left in the Redwings’ 26-24 victory.
The touchdown set off a raucous celebration among Benet players and fans as it booked its second state semifinal appearance in school history.
The stunned silence on North’s side of the field said it all about the Trojans’ heartbreaking loss that ended a long playoff run after a 5-4 regular season.
“I wish it would have gone the other way, but that’s the way things go in life,” North head coach John Wander said. “Three seconds I wish we had back, but you can’t get them back.”
“All these teammates are great, and I love each and every one of them,” sophomore quarterback David Edwards said. “We gave our best effort each and every game, each and every practice, so this is extremely difficult.
“I thought it was a great year for us. We fought extremely hard and they just made a play at the end.”
The Trojans (7-5) could take some solace in the fact they battled back from a 20-7 halftime deficit to take a 24-20 lead on Gareth Jones’ 30-yard field goal with 4:55 to play.
North’s defense came up huge early in the fourth quarter. Vontae Diggs blocked a punt, recovered it and scored a touchdown to draw North within 20-14 early in the fourth. Joe Hill sacked Beneventi on the ensuing drive, and moments later the Trojans got the ball back when Dan Izewski and Mitch Coha combined to force a fumble near the North sideline. Brandon Salter quickly capped the ensuing drive with a touchdown run that gave the Trojans a 21-20 lead. Benet fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Kendrick Schultz recovered and Jones kicked the field goal to end the drive.
The Trojans stopped the Redwings’ (11-1) on fourth down on the next drive, but when they couldn’t convert their own ensuing fourth down, Benet got the ball back at its own 35-yard line with just enough time to complete the game-winning drive.
“That last two minutes they just went after us,” said Diggs, a junior. “That quarterback has one heck of an arm and he made all the right passes.”
“They came up with the big play at the end, but our kids made big plays earlier to get us back in that game,” Wander said. “Hats off to them. They didn’t quit, and our kids didn’t quit either. Kids played hard.”
Looking ahead to the 2013 season, Edwards and Diggs are just two of a number of returning players. Coha, Izewski, linebacker Michael Dashut, running back Kyle Leto, wide receiver Richard Olekanma and defensive lineman Joe Hill are all expected to return.
But even nine months from now when the season starts, the memory of heartbreak will still be fresh.
“That last three seconds I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Diggs said.
“This feeling I think will stick with us all offseason,” Edwards said. “We’ll use this as motivation.”
SCORE BY QUARTER 1 2 3 4
DGN 0 7 0 17
Benet 6 14 0 6
1ST QUARTER: B Nick McTarnaghan 17-yard run (2-point failed), 6:56
2ND QUARTER: B Porter Ontko 1-yard run (John Duvic kick), 6:11; D David Edwards 2-yard run (Gareth Jones kick), 1:58; B McTarnaghan 11-yard pass from Jack Beneventi (Duvic kick), 25.7
4TH QUARTER: D Vontae Diggs blocked punt for touchdown (Jones kick), 11:38; D Brandon Salter 24-yard run (Jones kick), 7:39; D Jones 30-yard field goal, 4:55; B Jack Toner 5-yard pass from Beneventi (no kick), 0:00
RUSHING: D Salter 12-68, Edwards 20-65, Kyle Leto 5-10; B McTarnaghan 11-45, Ontko 9-37
PASSING: D Edwards 3-of-6, 22 yards; B Beneventi 26-of-47, 242 yards
RECEIVING: D Richard Olekanma 2-11; Santo Cardamone 1-11; B Joe Batina 5-57, Toner 4-49, Ontko 7-45, Jack Euritt 4-37, Nick Surges 1-29, McTarnaghan 5-27
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