Sean Studer carries confident Lincoln-Way Central to win

SHARE Sean Studer carries confident Lincoln-Way Central to win

For Lincoln-Way Central, the beginning of the SouthWest Suburban Red schedule was more than the usual opportunity to get off to a good start.

A season-opening win over Sandburg followed by a close loss to perennial power Lincoln-Way East meant Central had confidence as it prepared to go forward.

Friday night, the Knights also proved they could come from behind.

With Central trailing 21-14, Joe Nealon returned a kickoff 82 yards on the last play of the third quarter and workhorse running back Sean Studer ran in the go-ahead two-point conversion.

The Knights added another touchdown with less than two minutes left in the game after a long drive and the defense held off Bradley’s final push for a 28-21 victory.

“I was trying to score, I just wanted to make a play,” Nealon said of his TD return. “My teammates blocked for me and made the holes available and I just grabbed the sideline.

“I remember cutting right and I got a block to the left and I kept on going. The blocks were there. They really made that play for me.”

Studer literally carried Central’s hurry-up offense with 40 rushes for 181 yards, including a 1-yard plunge for the 28-21 lead with 1:41 to go after a 17-play drive.

“It’s not only me, it’s the offensive line,’’ Studer said. “They worked their butts off. It’s crazy how much conditioning we do.

“We needed this win. We really needed it to turn things around because of East last week. Now that we turned this around, we feel like we’re going to have a big snowball effect.’’

Central’s Justin Markus and Sean Kelly had tackles for losses on Bradley’s final possession and Markus batted down a pass for an incompletion to end the game.

Studer piled up 24 carries for 105 yards in the first half behind an offensive line that included Joe Dunlap, Ryan Morgan, David Vice, Nick Sabatini, Max Ancira, Tyler Stoklosa and Alex Davidson.

Central (2-1, 1-0) put together an 11-play, 75-yard drive in the first quarter that culminated on a 16-yard pass from Connor Campbell to Nealon for a 6-0 lead.

Bradley (2-1, 0-1) responded with a 20-yard field goal by Gavin Patterson on the last play from scrimmage in the first quarter. Five plays earlier, Central linebacker Brandon Dominski had a touchdown-saving tackle at the Knights’ 16-yard line after a 53-yard completion to Bradley’s Jarrod Ware.

Central opened the second quarter with another long scoring drive, a 13-play, 72-yard march that featured nine carries for 47 yards by Studer. Campbell’s 8-yard drive up the middle put Central ahead 14-3 with eight minutes left in the half.

Bradley quarterback Gionte Mason completed a 78-yard touchdown pass to Ware to cut Central’s lead to 14-9 with 4:46 to go before halftime.

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