Zack Bennema, Waubonsie Valley survive Glenbard East, thrive in OT

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Zack Bennema was just happy to get out of regulation with a tie.

Bennema scored on Waubonsie Valley’s first play in overtime Friday, and after Glenbard East scored on a pass from Phil Abruzino to Zach Walsch to get within a point, the Rams’ point-after attempt was no good as the Warriors survived 28-27 in Upstate Eight Valley play in Lombard.

Glenbard East (3-2, 1-2) took over at its own 23-yard line trailing 21-18 with 1:02 remaining in regulation when Abruzino found Walsch over the middle for 67 yards to the Waubonsie 10. After three incomplete passes, the Rams settled for a Jack Difino 22-yard field goal to force OT.

“I was just happy we got into overtime after they hit that pass,” Bennema said. “I was getting really nervous. But the defense made a great stand down there. We were happy to get out of there just getting into overtime. That was big for us.”

On the Warriors’ first play in overtime, Bennema kept the ball on an option left, broke one tackle and bulled his way into the end zone to give No. 7 Waubonsie (5-0, 3-0) a 28-21 lead.

“I had to step up,” he said. “All night, I wasn’t being as decisive as I wanted to be. I was kind of floating to the sideline, not taking it north-south. I knew I had to step up. Coach told me all night just attack north-south and that was one time that I did.”

Abruzino completed 14 of 25 passes for 250 yards to rally Glenbard East from a 21-10 deficit. He connected with Walsch from nine yards out and teamed up with the 6-1 junior wide receiver for the 2-point conversion to get the Rams within 21-18 with 2:55 left.

Waubonsie Valley struck first, taking over at the Glenbard East 43-yard line late in the first quarter aided by a 15-yard facemask penalty. Eight plays later, Bennema barreled in from the 1-yard line on third-and-goal six seconds into the second quarter.

Abruzino completed a 22-yard pass to Walsch to drive the Rams to the Warriors’ 23-yard line late in the second quarter, but a sack and an incomplete pass forced East to settle for a 42-yard field goal by Difino with 1:02 remaining.

Tony Durns (26 carries, 100 yards) extended the Warriors’ lead to 14-3 with a 1-yard TD run midway through the third quarter, but Abruzino and Walsch connected from 30 yards out to pull the Rams within 14-10 with 8:59 remaining in the fourth quarter.

A 43-yard TD run by Waubonsie’s Ryan Berg with 7:08 left seemed to put the game out of reach at 21-10, but the fireworks were just starting.

“That’s a great high school football game,” Glenbard East coach John Walters said. “You pay a couple of bucks to get in here. Ask yourself why you go to Soldier’s Field and some of the professional venues? You got a chance to see two good high school football teams battle it out for 48 minutes plus.”

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