Phillips shakes off 504-day layoff, beats Westinghouse

Jacoby Erving took his first touch of the game, a handoff on Phillips’ second play, all the way to the house for a 50-yard touchdown run.

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Phillips’ Jacoby Erving (3) runs for a touchdown against Westinghouse.

Phillips’ Jacoby Erving (3) runs for a touchdown against Westinghouse.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Phillips senior Jacoby Erving waited for his moment. He was the fourth-string running back last season. And it has been 504 days between football games for the Wildcats. That’s a lot of time for anyone, but it feels even longer to a high school kid. 

So when Erving finally had his chance, he took advantage. Erving took his first touch, a handoff on Phillips’ second play, to the house on a 50-yard run. 

The Wildcats beat Westinghouse 46-6 on Saturday at Solorio. Erving and fellow running back Jamel Britt each scored three touchdowns. 

“Throughout these 500 days, I’ve been working and working and working,” Erving said. “We only have four games, but I’m going to show out and ball.”

Erving had seven carries for 133 yards. He also scored on a three-yard run and a 20-yard run. 

Erving is small, fast and shifty. Britt is a punishing 220-pound runner. He had six carries for 55 yards. Britt caught a 36-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyler Turner and had touchdown runs of seven and 12 yards. 

“When I’m back there, they think I’m a speed back and I can’t run people over,” Erving said. “And when [Britt] is back there, they think it’s for short yardage. But he is versatile, too. He can run and bust through a hole just like me.”

Chicago Public Schools began allowing limited fans at games this week. 

“We were going to do our thing with or without fans, but to have the people here that love us and enjoy watching us play, it is so much better,” Britt said. “It motivates us.”

Turner, a junior, was 10-for-22 for 170 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. 

“The two senior running backs really stepped up,” Phillips coach Troy McAllister said. “They’ve both waited their turn patiently, and they both stood up today.”

Phillips’ backbone was its defense. The Wildcats held Westinghouse, which beat Lincoln Park 26-0 last week, to four rushing yards and 39 passing yards.

“We try to limit every opponent we face to negative yards,” Phillips linebacker Steven Hirsch said. “This is a great accomplishment, but we still have work to do.”

Hirsch, who has committed to Wisconsin-Platteville, was worried that he’d show up at college with one fewer season under his belt than everyone else, so just playing Saturday felt like a gift. 

“It’s amazing,” Hirsch said. “I was scared that all my future teammates would have full 14-game seasons and I’d be on the outside looking in, and it was really tough. Even just four games, it is a blessing.”

Westinghouse scored midway through the first quarter on a 90-yard interception return by senior LaDainian Linnear.

“That was a learning experience,” Warriors coach Julius Carter said. “We are a really young team. With the spring season popping up on us, we are missing a few kids. We had a good win last week, and now we played one of the top teams in the state.

‘‘We have to bounce back, review the film, fix our mistakes and get ready for Lane.”

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