HINSDALE – Hinsdale Central quarterback Chase Hamilton returned for the first time since Week 3 to help the Red Devils become playoff eligible.
Hamilton – who suffered a fractured leg during a Sept. 13 win over York – returned under center against Downers Grove North on Friday, splitting reps with Jacob White and Thomas Ives. The trio manufactured two first half touchdown drives, guiding the Red Devils to a 20-14 win over their conference rival.
With the victory, Hinsdale Central (5-4, 3-3 West Suburban Silver) reached the coveted five-win mark and likely secured a trip to the postseason. Downers Grove North (5-4, 3-3 WSS) qualified for the playoffs with a week eight victory over Proviso West and will probably hear its name called when the IHSA announces seeds and matchups on Saturday night.
But Friday night belonged to the Red Devils, who dominated time of possession and tempo. Central opened the scoring in the first quarter when White – lined up at quarterback – slammed in a 1-yard touchdown run.
Later in the half, running back Ben Stefani finished off another marathon drive, taking a Hamilton handoff one yard into the endzone and pushing the Red Devils' lead to 14-0.
North then cut the score to 14-7 when Vontae Diggs hit receiver Richard Olekanma on a 64-yard post pattern down the right sideline.
In the second half, Hinsdale Central pushed the lead back to two scores when Blake Hately converted on a pair of field goals.
Although a touchdown run from Diggs made the game close in the fourth quarter, the Red Devils were able to hang on and secure a 20-14 victory.