DeKalb’s Ethan Tierney earns redemption, gets key interception to seal Barbs win over Sycamore

DeKALB — After Ethan Tierney missed an extra point that would have won the game for DeKalb against Sycamore on Friday, it didn’t take him long to find his redemption.

A kicker for the Barbs since his freshman year, Tierney started playing cornerback this year. And in overtime against the Spartans, he came up with an interception that clinched the Barbs’ 23-16 win at Huskie Stadium.

“After I missed that I was upset, but I knew there would be plays, chances in the overtime " Tierney said. “I knew I had to step up and do something for this team.”

Sycamore (0-1) pulled ahead in the fourth quarter when Kiefer Tarnoki returned a fumbled snap 60 yards on fourth-and-1 for DeKalb from the Sycamore 33. DeKalb quarterback Josh Klemm was leveled on the play by Sycamore’s Ethan Bode and did not return to the game.

The Spartans went for two after successive false starts by the Barbs on the extra point but the run failed and Sycamore led 16-10.

The Barbs started their tying drive with 3:36 left and Adrien McVicar at quarterback. Tarnoki almost came away with a game-sealing interception at the DeKalb 43, but the Barbs recovered and marched down field for a score. They even turned a second-and-24 into a fourth-and-1, which McVicar converted with a pass to Cooper Phelps.

On the next play, McVicar hit Toriano Tate, and his second effort to dive across the goalline tied the game with 13 seconds left. But Tierney was wide left on the extra point.

“He was pretty down after he missed it and rightfully so,” said coach Derek Schneeman, who won his first game as head coach of the Barbs. “He felt he let everybody down. We told him to keep your head in there because you’re going to have another opportunity to make a play. And did he. Coming up at the end there was incredible. I’m so proud of him.”

DeKalb went first in the overtime, and facing a second-and-goal from the 17, McVicar found Ethan McCarter for a touchdown and a 23-16 lead.

Sycamore was facing a third-and-goal from the 6 on its next possession when Ethan Meier – who threw for 212 yards and ran for 67 more – went to the end zone with a pass, but went right into Tierney’s arms for the interception.

“I don’t even know the words,” Tierney said. “It just feels great. I’m just caught up in the moment.”

It was the first interception for Meier. Sycamore did lose two fumbles in the first half as well.

“I thought he played really well for a game of this magnitude,” Ryan said of his junior starting quarterback. “I thought he ran the ball a lot better in the second half and threw the ball well. There’s some things ... he’s going to need to improve upon.”

Tate finished with 128 yards on 22 carries for DeKalb.

“It was great because we were down,” Tate said. “But we knew we had to stay resilient and come out there and make a big play.”

DeKalb opened the scoring in the second quarter when Tierney connected on a 35-yard field goal on the first play. The drive was set up when Isaac Genseke recovered a Nathaniel Altepeter fumble on the 15-yard line. DeKalb couldn’t get a first down and had to settle for the kick.

Sycamore answered later in the quarter with a lightning-quick drive, with Meier finding Kayden Galto deep downfield for a 36 yard gain. On the next play, Meier looked deep again, but scrambled up the right side untouched 20 yards for a touchdown.

Kaden Ladas added a 45-yard field as time expired in the second quarter for a 10-3 lead.

“It was a good first test and we’ll improve from this. I guarantee you,” Ryan said. “That’s why we like playing a good Week 1 game. We want to win them, but you also want to come out with good film and know where to improve. ... But overall I’m not displeased. We went toe-to-toe with a 7A team. That’s going to bode well for us.”

DeKalb had a chance to score late in the second quarter. Klemm stood in the pocket under pressure to get a pass off to Cooper Phelps for 30 yards. But Dominic Bills leveled him as he threw, he was injured on the play. He ended up leaving later in the game when hit hard again.

It was the seventh straight win for DeKalb against Sycamore.

“It’s amazing. I don’t have any other words for it. I’m so happy for the guys and the way they bounced back,” Schneeman said. “We were, I don’t know if I’d say flat, but caught up in the moment in the first half. and taking it all in. And that’s to be expected because we have a lot of first-year varsity starters. But I’m so proud of them and their resiliency.”