ELMHURST – Trailing by as many as 25 points Wheaton North pulled off a comeback for the ages.
The Falcons stunned a Fenwick team that had everything go right almost all of the first half to win 32-31 and advance to the Class 7A quarterfinals, where they will host Lake Zurich.
The Friars led 31-6 late in the second quarter at Elmhurst College before the Falcon comeback began.
Northwestern recruit Clayton Thorson brought the Falcons back while the Wheaton North offense almost entirely bailed on the run in order to score quickly. Thorson was 30-for-48 for 390 yards and five touchdowns. In the second half alone he threw for 247 yards.
“He’s unbelievable,” senior wide receiver Matt Biegalski said. “I would not want anyone else but Clayton as my quarterback. It’s pretty special what we can do on offense with all the receivers and the running game as well.”
Fenwick built its lead with a heavy dose of running back Robert Spillane (40 carries, 237 yards) and some big plays from tight end Ryan Smith (5 receptions, 105 yards, 3 TDs).
Trailing 31-6 late in the second quarter Wheaton North (9-2) went for a fake punt - Thorson also doubles as the punter - and converted a fourth-and-13 with a 40-yard gain. Two plays later Thorson hit Biegalski for a 7-yard score to cut the lead to 31-12 before halftime and give the Falcons some momentum.
Thorson completed 10 of his first 12 pass attempts in the first two drives of the third quarter to cut the lead to 31-26 with 4:58 left in the quarter.
In the fourth, the Falcons’ defense recovered a fumble in Fenwick territory and Thorson to Biegalski was the connection again. A 13-yard TD gave Wheaton North its first lead with 8:06 to go in the game and that score held.
“This is definitely the most fun I’ve had in a game,” Thorson said. “To come back like that, that’s huge for our program and for our team.”
Biegalski, who recently committed to play for Illinois State, finished with four touchdowns and 244 yards on 14 receptions.
Fenwick finished the season 9-2.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Fenwick coach Gene Nudo said. “We deserved a better fate tonight. Give Wheaton North credit, they’re a good ball club. I think we’re a good ball club, too.”