First-half momentum leads Naperville Central to win

SHARE First-half momentum leads Naperville Central to win

Gutsy calls can sometimes cost a team. When they go the right way, though, they can help a team win a big game.

Naperville Central certainly took a big chance with literally only seconds remaining in the first half of Saturday’s rescheduled home opener against Waubonsie Valley.

Leading 7-3 against the Warriors, the Redhawks were already in position to take a lead into halftime. With the ball on the 5-yard line, they were easily in field goal position. Furthermore, with only four seconds left on the clock, they only had enough time for one more play.

Naperville Central coach Mike Stine elected to go for the touchdown and his decision proved to be a crucial one as quarterback Jake Kolbe eluded the defensive pressure and, moments after the buzzer had sounded, found junior Michael Kolzow in the end zone.

The Redhawks carried such a huge play, as well as its momentum it provided, into halftime and made it stand up in the second half for a 23-10 victory.

“That was huge and that was all those five guys on the line blocking,” Naperville Central coach Mike Stine said. “We have confidence in Jake (Kolbe) and that was him running the show and calling stuff.”

No.16 Waubonsie Valley (0-1) was its own worst enemy, committing three turnovers, all on fumbles.

After getting pinned at their own 3-yard line after a Ben Andreas punt, the Warriors coughed the ball up and the Redhawks recovered on the 11. Although unable to punch it in, the Redhawks increased their lead to 16-3 on a 27-yard field goal by sophomore Connor Assalley with 2:24 left in the third quarter.

The Warriors answered with 8:45 remaining in the fourth using a 14-play drive to find the end zone on a pivotal fourth-down play. Eddy took it in on the keeper for a 2-yard score and junior kicker Josh Polhill’s PAT made it a 16-10 lead.

The No.24-ranked Redhawks responded right back on their next possession. After Kolbe’s 12-yard run took the Redhawks down to the 1, senior Tyler Joyce crashed into the end zone to make it 23-10 with 6:02 on the clock.

Neither team was able to do much on offense in the first quarter. The Warriors took a 3-0 lead with 7:14 left in the second quarter on a 23-yard field goal from Polhill.

The Redhawks ended up taking the lead for the good when they scored their first touchdown of the season. It came after it appeared as if they had scored on an 8-yard catch by senior Ben Andreas from Kolbe, but a false start nullified the play.

But Naperville Central found redemption on a third-down-and-14 when the two seniors once again connected for a 14-yard touchdown pass with 5:20 left before halftime.

Starting off the season with a win was huge for the Redhawks after finishing 4-5 last year and missing the playoffs.

“We knew it would be big to be 1-0 and we’ve got great seniors,” Stine said. “We know it was going to be a battle and that there would be adversity (Friday’s night’s weather postponement). This was like a quarterfinal game with quarterfinal-caliber teams.”

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