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Niles West engineers fourth-quarter drive to beat Evanston

EVANSTON — It came down to the last series.

The Niles West football team marched 73 yards in 2 minutes, 48 seconds to earn a 47-42 Central Suburban South win over Evanston on the Wildkits’ homecoming night.

The Wolves’ eight-play drive ended with just 35 seconds remaining in the game when quarterback Tommy Galanopoulos scored on a 1-yard keeper.

“We thought the last team with the ball and a decent position with enough time would probably win tonight,” Niles West Coach Scott Baum said.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Niles West and Evanston traded scores all evening. Backs and receivers from both teams wowed a wild Evanston homecoming crowd time and again, but defensive breakdowns plagued each team, too.

Evanston scored just 15 seconds into the game. Niles West scored 12 seconds later.

One difference maker, however, was Niles West running back Brandon Costantino. The senior carried the ball 14 times on the night for a hard-earned 65 yards. Just when the Wildkits’ defense had seemingly shut down the Wolves’ Galanopoulos, Costantino would come charging up the middle for a first down.

“He’s a guy who just grinds it out,” Baum said. “He gets a lot of yards. He keeps the clock moving for us.”

Costantino has been a star track athlete for Niles West since his sophomore year. Now he’s bringing that success to football.

“He’s a great kid and works really hard at it,” Baum said. “So it’s good to see him do well on the field.”

Costantino said the Wolves (4-1, 1-0) knew coming in that Evanston (2-3, 0-1) would stack the outside defensively, which made his job for the night pretty clear.

“My role is to just read the hole and push it up the gap, get what I can get,” Costantino said.

Costantino contributed 17 yards the game-winning drive.

Tommy Galanopoulos, for his part, said he felt like he was making bad decisions most of the game. But his stats sure didn’t reflect that. The senior quarterback threw the ball 33 times for 297 yards, and he picked up another 60 yards on the ground.

“I just have to do my job, execute and believe in my teammates because they’re the ones that are going to push us forward,” Galanopoulos said.

Evanston fell in the conference opener, but not without an incredible performance from senior wide receiver Brandon Hilliard.

Hilliard had six touchdowns on six receptions for 187 yards and 10 carries for another 54 yards.