Hinsdale Central grabs triumph from Willowbrook

3 minute read

Matt Le Cren
Daily Herald Correspondent

There's a reason Hinsdale Central tight end Matt Bjorson has committed to Indiana.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior demonstrated it Friday night by making a spectacular touchdown catch against Willowbrook.

Bjorson took what appeared to be a sure interception away from defensive back Nick Sabatino in the left corner of the end zone, coming down with a 28-yard reception with 2:50 left in the third quarter.

That turned out to be the game-winning play. The Red Devils held on for a 27-21 West Suburban Conference crossover victory in Hinsdale.

"He's really big, he's fast and he jumped up and made a play on the ball," Hinsdale Central quarterback Matt Rush said. "I had no doubt; I knew he was going to catch it."

Few other people did when the Rush unleashed the third-and-14 pass. It was a jump ball on which the 5-10 Sabatino had the inside position until Bjorson snatched it away.

"(Sabatino) was playing like 6 yards off, so I knew it was going to be a jump ball," said Bjorson, who had 4 catches for 58 yards. "Even Rush said, 'When you get in that position I'm going to throw you up the ball.'

"I knew I had to undercut (Sabatino). I jumped over him and made the play. You've got to make those plays if you want your team to win."

For most of the game it looked like neither team wanted to win. They combined for 162 yards in penalties, several fumbles, 2 recovered onside kicks, 1 blocked punt and another that went for negative yardage.

The game was tied three times and wasn't decided until Hinsdale Central linebacker Vincent Zelisko intercepted John Taylor's pass near midfield with 25 seconds left.

"I think that's the one positive note in that we found a way to pull it out at the end," Hinsdale Central coach Dan Hartman said. "It was a back-and-forth game, lots of penalties, a lot sloppy play. Not a whole lot of bright spots, but we found a way to pull it out in the end."

Rush completed 13 of 20 passes for 187 yards and 3 touchdowns. He hit J.T. Kolke on a 29-yarder that tied the game 7-7 in the first quarter and Garrett Oakley on a 30-yarder to pull the Red Devils (1-1) even again in the second quarter.

Nick Biancalana's 20-yard return of a blocked punt gave Hinsdale Central its first lead, 21-14, but the Warriors (1-1) tied it at 21 on a 7-yard run by Jack Jessen 19 seconds before halftime.

Jessen rushed 32 times for 174 yards and two scores, but the Warriors had no answer for Bjorson.

"(Bjorson) is a great player," Hartman said. "We try to get him the ball as much as we can.

"Probably need to get it to him a little more. We gave him a couple opportunities to make big plays in big situations and he made one."

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