October 11, 2007
By Ken Ryan | SPORTS WRITER
Hinsdale Central wide receiver Troy Laing was so tired in the closing minutes of Friday's West Suburban Conference Silver Division game against York that he could barely catch his breath.
He had plenty of motivation to fight through it, however.
"The whole team was tired, but we knew this was a huge game for us," Laing said. "Coming into the game, all we were thinking about was how this was for the conference championship."
That's why Laing and the rest of his teammates were so disappointed after the game.
Despite a valiant comeback, the Red Devils dropped a thriller to the Dukes 33-28 for their first conference loss of the season. York improved to 4-1 in the Silver to take over the top spot, a half game ahead of Hinsdale Central and Lyons Township, who are both 3-1 in league play.
York (5-2) can clinch at least a share of its third straight conference championship by winning its Silver finale Oct. 19 at home against Oak Park, while Hinsdale Central (5-2) can still get at least a piece of the title with wins against Proviso West (1-6) Friday, Oct. 12 at home and at Glenbard West Oct. 20.
Hinsdale Central overcame a 21-0 first-half deficit to take a 28-27 lead in the fourth quarter only to see York score on a 53-yard touchdown pass with 4 minutes, 24 seconds remaining and hold on for the victory.
"Our guys fought their (butts) off," Hinsdale Central coach Mike DiMatteo said. "I was really proud of them. We could've easily tanked it when we got down 21-0 and we didn't. Our team showed a lot of character I thought by coming back. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, we keep digging ourselves holes in big games. We can't do that and we do. We as a coaching staff and me in particular have to look at how we're preparing and figure out what the problem is."
Despite the sluggish start, Hinsdale Central put itself in position to win the game.
After Connor Marrero caught a 13-yard TD pass from quarterback John Whitelaw to put Hinsdale Central ahead 28-27 following Todd Klepacki's extra-point kick with 8:19 remaining, Mike Rogowski recovered an onside kick for the Red Devils at the York 49. But on fourth-and-one at the 40, Whitelaw (110 yards, 13 carries) was stopped for no gain, turning the ball over on downs to the Dukes.
Four plays later, Mike McNulty and junior quarterback Tom Judge hooked up on a 53-yard touchdown reception to put York ahead for good at 33-28. Hinsdale Central wasn't able to muster much offense on its final two possessions, and Jordan Banuelos sealed the Dukes' victory with an interception with five seconds left near the York goal line.
"It's really disappointing when you fight all the way back and get a lead and you can't execute a fourth-down play," DiMatteo said. "We had an error on the play. People sometimes forget they're kids. They played as hard as they possibly could. The game really never ever should've come down to that play, but when you spot a team a 21-point lead you get what you deserve."
York stunned the Red Devils by needing just two plays to get on the board.
After Brendan Sullivan stopped York's Spencer Ingle for a 4-yard loss on the game's first play from scrimmage, McNulty broke past the defense and scored on a 60-yard TD pass from Judge for a 7-0 lead. Luke Regole caught a 4-yard TD pass from Judge on a fourth-and-goal play to put York ahead 14-0 on its next possession. The highlight of the 11-play drive was a 37-yard reception by Joe Santiago. York then jumped ahead 21-0 in the second quarter on a 29-yard run by McNulty (146 rushing yards, 117 receiving yards) before the Red Devils' comeback began.
Laing caught a 19-yard TD pass from Whitelaw with 2:06 left before halftime to trim the deficit to 21-7. Hinsdale Central regained possession at its own 48 with 1:14 left and no timeouts remaining and moved into scoring position before Whitelaw's fourth-and-goal pass from the 5 was knocked down by Brian Gidcumb as time expired.
Hinsdale Central pulled within 21-14 midway through the third quarter on Laing's second TD reception from Whitelaw (16 for 32, 225 yards), but York jumped back ahead 27-14 when McNulty capped a five-play drive, on which he had all five carries, with a 21-yard touchdown. York missed the extra point.
The fireworks continued when Whitelaw scored on a 50-yard run with 2:50 left in the third quarter to set the stage for the dramatic finish.
"This game meant so much to me because I feel York has no respect for Hinsdale Central," said Laing, who caught seven passes for 124 yards. "I always hear them talking smack about us and that's why it hurts so much more that we lost to them when we should've won this game. It hurts tonight, but this has nothing to do with our season. We still have a goal of winning conference and going downstate."
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