St. Charles North turns up defense, rolls past Rolling Meadows

SHARE St. Charles North turns up defense, rolls past Rolling Meadows

All year long St. Charles North had relied on its stout defense to shut opponents down, but Saturday night it was the offense that closed out a 34-22 Class 7A playoff win at Rolling Meadows.

Quarterback Nathan Didier ran for three touchdowns and running back Eric Lins powered in for two more to help the ninth-seeded North Stars (8-2) finish off the eighth-seeded Mustangs (7-3) and advance to a second-round game against top-seeded Cary-Grove.

Didier broke a 46-yard run up the middle on third down for a touchdown to seal the victory after a late fourth-quarter rally by Rolling Meadows had made the game interesting.

Didier finished with 74 yards rushing and completed 17-for-27 for 198 yards.

The Stars drove 59 yards to the game’s first score on Didier’s 2-yard run off right guard on fourth-and-goal with 9:37 left in the second quarter.

St. Charles North’s defense completely dominated Rolling Meadows in the first half after allowing one drive to the Stars’ 28-yard line that ended on downs. The Mustangs never managed another scoring threat until the Stars had gone up 20-0.

The Stars’ defense triggered North’s first two scores of the second half. Nick Zamenick picked off a pass by Mustangs quarterback R.J. Mattucci, and North drove 40 yards to Lins’ first TD on a 5-yard run with 6:38 left in the third quarter to make it 14-0.

A fumble recovery by North’s Dalton Young at the Rolling Meadows 29 gave Didier the chance for his second TD run, this from a yard out with 3:58 left in the third quarter for a 20-0 lead.

Lins, who rushed for 65 yards on 22 carries, scored on a 2-yard run with 6:57 left in the game after Tyler Mettetal’s fourth-down sack of Mattucci at the Rolling Meadows 15.

That TD seemed to lock up a Stars win, building a 28-6 lead.

However, Mattucci, who completed 13-for-23 for 182 yards, fired a perfect 70-yard bomb to Jack O’Neill with 6:45 left in the game. Then he made it interesting by throwing a 42-yard TD strike to Jack Swindells with 2:07 remaining, and the 2-point conversion pass drew Rolling Meadows within 28-22.

North recovered the ensuing onside kick and on fourth down, while trying to kill as much time as possible, Didier broke his 46-yard clinching score.

Blake Kastein hauled in five catches for 69 yards for North, while Kyle Novotney had four catches for 40 yards.

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