High School Football Class 7A Playoffs: Brother Rice edges Wheaton Warrenville South
By Steve Millar
Brother Rice’s offense has been virtually unstoppable all season, rolling to at least 40 points in every game it played.
It’s the Crusaders’ defense, however, that is the biggest reason they survived the first round of the Class 7A playoffs.
On a night when the offense struggled, the defense made the big plays in a 27-26 win over Wheaton Warrenville South on Oct. 30.
“It really showed what our defense can do,” senior defensive back Khary Shaw said. “It was really a great effort we put on. It was definitely, ‘bend but don’t break.’ We say that all the time. I told the guys at halftime that we were going to win this game and that’s what we did.
“The offense picks us up, we pick them up. That’s how football is. It’s a team sport.”
The ninth-seeded Crusaders (8-2) will travel to 25th-seeded Yorkville (6-4) in the second round.
Shaw made the biggest play of all with just 46 seconds to go in the game.
Wheaton Warrenville South (5-5) trailed 27-20 before Matt Sommerdyke stunned the Crusaders’ fans with a 60-yard touchdown pass to Reece Young.
The Tigers immediately lined up to go for two to take the lead.
Sommerdyke’s pass over the middle was in the hands of receiver Quentin Spencer in the end zone before Shaw jarred it loose.
“I just threw the best punch I could,” Shaw said. “The best left cross I had. That’s what happened. I hit his arms and elbows. Our coaches always tell me to play the hands. I’m just happy I listened to my coaches.”
The Crusaders recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.
Survive and advance.
“We’ve been averaging over 44 points a game,” Brother Rice coach Brian Badke said. “We knew they were a really good defense. When I saw the draw, I wasn’t happy about it. We’ll get better from this and be ready for next week.”
The Crusaders were hurt by three turnovers. Notre Dame-bound quarterback Jack Lausch threw a pair of interceptions, was off on several throws and was hurt by drops from his receivers.
He finished 12-of-27 for 129 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Vaughn.
Lausch, though, made plenty happy with his feet. He ran for 142 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries.
With the game tied 20-20, Brother Rice got the ball at its own 27-yard line with 5:12 to go and Lausch led his team on a 73-yard, game-winning drive.
Vaughn – who finished with 102 yards on 19 carries — had some key runs along the way, and Lausch capped it with a 14-yard dash to the end zone with 1:21 to go.
“I’m proud of the way everyone fought, proud of the way the defense kept us in the game, proud of the way our offense fought through struggles,” Lausch said. “This was a great team win and a great team learning experience.”
Young returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to put Wheaton-Warrenville South in front immediately.
The Crusaders never led until Lausch’s late touchdown.
Sommerdyke completed 17 of 28 passes for 252 yards for the Tigers.
Trey Pierce led the Crusaders’ defense with a sack and several big tackles. Jack Mallon had a fumble recovery.
“Obviously we didn’t play our best,” Badke said. “It was not a good way to start the game. That took the wind out of our sails. We’ll get better from this. The kids were resilient. Jack and all our offense will find the corrections to make and get better. I’m proud of our defense, making big plays.”
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