OAK PARK — The Maine South football team overcame three turnovers and missed opportunities early to earn a 34-21 win Saturday over Oak Park-River Forest. The Hawks advanced to the Class 8A quarterfinals and will play Loyola.
Winners of nine in a row, the fourth-seeded Hawks took control of the game by scoring a touchdown with no time left in the first half and then again on their first series of the second half to stake themselves to a 27-7 lead over the host Huskies.
Maine South sophomore quarterback Brian Collis connected with senior Tony Buenrostro for an 8-yard touchdown before the break. Collis then directed a 12-play possession to begin the third quarter that erased more than six minutes off the clock and ended with his 8-yard scoring strike to senior George Sajenko.
“That was outstanding time management,” Maine South junior running back Justin Fahey said of the start to the second half. “We ate up huge chunks of the clock.”
Fahey did his part by rushing for 148 yards on 22 carries. He scored on a 6-yard pass from Collis in the second quarter. Collis tossed three touchdowns and finished 13-for-23 for 118 yards. He also threw two interceptions.
Hawks senior running back Clay Burdelik, who twice separated his shoulder this season, scored two touchdowns and lost a fumble.
Maine South (9-2) started the game with the strong wind at its back and three possessions at the 50-yard line or better, but the Hawks came out of the first quarter with only a 7-0 lead.
“We were executing, but it was one or two plays that seemed to screw us up,” Fahey said. “But we just kept doing what we do.”
Although down by 20 midway through the third quarter, the No. 5 Huskies (9-2) made it interesting after senior Simmie Cobbs’ 49-yard touchdown catch with 4:46 to go before the fourth. But they never got any closer than 13 in the second half.
An interception by Maine South junior Tommy Bazarek late in the fourth quarter enabled the Hawks to run out the clock. It was Oak Park-River Forest’s third turnover of the afternoon.
Cobbs, who was quiet in the first half, finished with four catches for 102 yards and a touchdown. Huskies junior quarterback Lloyd Yates went 17-for-27 for 254 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He ran 10 times for 115 yards and a touchdown.
“That (touchdown) before the half obviously was big, and the one in the third quarter was even bigger,” said Maine South coach Dave Inserra, whose team had two scoring drives of 10 plays or longer in the final two quarters. “We established ourselves in the second half by running the ball. We kept grinding out the clock.”