A little luck and a lot of heart carried Dundee-Crown one step closer to ending its 19-year playoff drought Friday.
With three offensive starters sidelined, the Chargers were on the short end of a wide disparity in total yardage, but they produced just enough scoring to make a gutsy defensive effort stand up in a thrilling 17-14 victory against visiting Huntley.
The Red Raiders finished with a 324-133 advantage in total offense, but they had two drives stall deep in Dundee-Crown territory in the final five minutes. Both possessions ended in missed field goals wide to the right by junior kicker Donnie Young, including a 27-yard attempt with five seconds left that sealed the outcome.
With the triumph, Dundee-Crown (4-1, 2-1 Fox Valley Valley) reaches the four-win mark for the first time since 1998. The Chargers host Grayslake Central next week with a chance to become playoff eligible for the first time since 1994.
“Everybody held their own,” Dundee-Crown junior Malik Dunner said. “This is a great win for us. It puts us a step closer to the playoffs, which is where we want to be.”
Dunner played a leading role on both sides of the ball as Dundee-Crown pieced things together without running back Cordero Parson, who was benched for team reasons, and injured offensive linemen Trent Hanselmann and Brad Spandenberg.
In addition to making some key stops in the secondary, Dunner also gave the Chargers the lead for good when he sprinted 41 yards around the left side for a touchdown on a third-and-15 situation with 7:44 left in the third quarter on what turned out to be the final scoring play.
“It was great blocking by everyone,” Dunner said. “I just saw green and I took off. Nobody touched me.”
Huntley (2-3, 0-2) had two long touchdown runs called back by holding penalties in the second half, adding to the frustration of its third straight loss.
The Red Raiders had a golden opportunity with first-and-goal from Dundee-Crown’s 7 midway through the fourth quarter, but they couldn’t push the ball across the goal line as Jordan Linson stopped Mitchell Kawell behind the line of scrimmage on third down. That set up a 22-yard attempt for Young, which sailed right.
Huntley held the Chargers to three-and-out on the next possession, setting up one more chance as it took over at Dundee-Crown’s 44 with 2:59 left. An illegal procedure penalty didn’t help matters as the Red Raiders again came away empty after Young missed in the closing seconds.
“We all have jobs, and (Young’s) job is to kick field goals,” Huntley coach John Hart said. “We had two easy ones, and we’ve got to make those. But it’s no more different than the guy who picked his hand up (on the procedure penalty) or the guy who made the hold. Those all make the difference.”
The Chargers struck first on Caleb Parson’s 26-yard touchdown run in the first half, but the Red Raiders answered with touchdown runs from Jake Scalise and Blake Jacobs. TJ Moss then kicked a key 28-yard field goal for Dundee-Crown late in the second quarter to cut Huntley’s lead to 14-10 going into halftime.
Kawell finished with 122 rushing yards on 21 carries for Huntley, which lost to the Chargers for the first time in the past six meetings between the schools.
“We lost to a really good Cary-Grove team last week, so we had to prove we could bounce back,” Linson said. “We stepped up and got it done.”
DUNDEE-CROWN 17, HUNTLEY 14
Huntley 0 14 0 0 – 13
Dundee-Crown 7 3 70 – 17
D-C – Parson 26 run (Moss kick), 6:26
H – Scalise 27 run (Young kick), 5:01
H – Jacobs 32 run (Young kick), 1:52
D-C – Moss 28 FG, 0:08
D-C – Dunner 41 run (Moss kick), 7:44
Team stats Huntley D-C
First downs 16 7
Comp.-att.-int. 9-13-1 0-4-0
Passing yards 82 0
Rush att.-yards 46-242 35-133
Total yards 324 133
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 7-70 8-70
Huntley — Kawell 21-122, Scalise 14-69,Jacobs 11-54.
D-C — Dunner 5-52, Parson 13-47, Moss 13-33, Atherton 4-1.
Huntley — Jacobs 10–16-1 67.
D-C — Atherton 0-4-0 0.
Huntley — Kesul 5-39, Altergott 2-19, Esikiel 1-15, Stephens 2-9.
D-C — None.