DOWNERS GROVE – Nothing went right for York in the first quarter of Friday’s game.
In a battle of unbeaten teams, Downers Grove North benefited from a host of mistakes by the Dukes in the opening 12 minutes.
But York running back Kelly Watson jolted his team out of an early funk, racing 93 yards for a second-quarter touchdown.
From that moment, the Dukes regained their composure, scoring 14 points in the second quarter en route to a 28-10 win in West Suburban Silver play.
“That run felt great,” Watson said. “I think that also helped bring the energy. We were holding our heads after the first couple of series, but that run helped.”
The Dukes (4-0, 2-0) stayed undefeated by limiting their mistakes in the final three quarters, relying on a strong defensive effort and effectively mixing the pass and run.
Watson, a first-year varsity player, finished with 24 carries for a career-high 175 yards and a touchdown. On his touchdown run, Watson found an opening on the near sideline, looking back a few times to check if a defender was near him on his way to the end zone for a 7-3 lead with eight minutes left in the second quarter.
“I just hit the hole and was gone,” Watson said. “The offensive line blocked great. I just saw the hole and was gone and the receivers had some great back-side blocks. We practiced that (run) all week.”
The Dukes survived a horror show of mishaps in the first quarter, with three bad snaps, throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble. In total, the Dukes managed a total of 15 yards in the first quarter.
York reserve quarterback Matt Vezza played a big part in the comeback, when he entered the game at the start of the second quarter. His running and passing provided a new dimension, as he finished with 98 yards passing with two touchdowns and running for 77 yards an a TD.
“We made a lot of mistakes,” York coach Mike Fitzgerald said. “Our punter, Max Hansman, bailed us out on a bad snap that saved us. Our defense was lights-out the whole game and gave us a chance to settle in. I knew if we didn’t make mistakes that we would be fine, but unfortunately we made a lot of them early to put ourselves in a bad spot. Thankfully, we got our bearings on offense and got going and got the lead before halftime. It was an unbelievable team effort.”
The Trojans (3-1, 0-1) weren’t able to capitalize on York’s flurry of first-quarter mistakes, though Ethan Thulin hauled in a 66-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. York stopped the Trojans from establishing a running game, limiting them to 93 yards on the ground.
“We just settled in and just kept going and stayed resilient and stopped them at key times,” York linebacker Jeff Coglianese said. “We kept playing hard. It took us some time, but we got rolling on offense and played really good on defense. That was a great team win.”