Simeon squeaks by Wheaton North in defensive struggle

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Simeon coach Dante Culbreath walked off the field after defeating Wheaton North, shaking his head and looking up to the sky. The Wolverines nearly let the game slip away in the final minutes before escaping with a 14-9 victory Saturday night at Gately Stadium.

Both teams’ defenses kept each other at bay, as the first half ended with the score 0-0.The Wolverines (2-1) got things rolling with a 26-yard touchdown run by Dion Earls with 2:39 remaining in the third quarter. It all appeared to be going Simeon’s way when the Wolverines increased their lead to 14-0 with 10:08 remaining in the fourth quarter on a 23-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Reed from quarterback Timon Watkins.

The Falcons scored their first points on a safety with 5:39 remaining in the fourth quarter when Simeon snapped the ball out of the end zone on a punt attempt. The Falcons (0-3) came right back and scored on their next possession using a bit of trickery on a half-back option pass from Steele Graham to JP Forcucci to cut the lead to 14-9 with 4:46 remaining in the game.

The Falcons got one more chance with less than two minutes left when they picked off a Simeon pass on a second-and-goal from the 9-yard line. The Falcons drove down to the 27-yard line but failed to convert on a fourth-and-13 when linebacker Maurice Burton sacked quarterback Luke Anthony.

“I felt I had to make a play,” Burton said. “I had been getting double-teamed most of the game, but I was able to make a move and get the inside position and get to the quarterback. I just wanted to get this thing over with.”

Burton led the team with 11 tackles. Defensive tackle Malik Allen and safety Anthony Sheko registered nine.

Culbreath said he was glad to get the win but there were some things that have to be corrected in order for the Wolverines to compete the way they want to compete. “The one good thing is that any problem that we have is correctible,” Culbreath said. “We just have to cut down on the mental mistakes we are making.”

Earls led Simeon’s ground attack with 150 yards on 32 carries and one touchdown. Watkins was 16-of-30 for 170 yards and one touchdown.

Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski said he was proud of his team’s effort. “We need to clean up some things,” Wardynski said. “We fought till the end. That was a big-time play by the linebacker. He beat the guy off the edge and made a great play.”

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