DARIEN – With their Homecoming game tied at halftime, junior lineman Griffin Carr and his Hinsdale South teammates turned up the defensive heat big time.
“After that first half, we were kind of a little worried and then we kicked it up in the second half and came up with the victory,” Carr said. “Before the game, our coach said 14 points (allowed) or less so we kept it at that.”
The Hornets not only shut out Morton in the second half but held the Mustangs to minus-23 yards of offense in pulling out a 24-14 West Suburban Conference Gold victory in Darien.
Hinsdale South (2-3, 2-0 in Gold) scored on its first possession of the second half with a 33-yard field goal by Mikey Urbanski. Cassidy Whitaker added his second rushing touchdown on a 37-yard run with 1:18 left as the Hornets were running out the clock and Morton (2-3, 1-1) was down to its final timeout.
Carr led the numerous sacks and tackles for loss in the second half but had plenty of help from the likes of Logan Bryant, Sean Wilson, Ace Stallings and Jovanni Piazza. Morton’s two first downs both came on penalties.
“That’s probably the best game we’ve had all season with defense-wise,” Carrs aid. “We figured out what they were going to run first and then second half we came out and did it better than the first half. It was fun. The guys, we had a lot of energy.”
Morton finished with 155 total yards and most coming on two long touchdown runs by David Arana.
Morton tied the game 14-14 with 7:15 left until halftime on Arana’s 53-yard TD run on fourth-and-3. The Mustangs had been in punt formation on fourth-and-8 but then reconsidered after a Hinsdale South offsides penalty.
“Our defense picked it up and kind of figured it out,” Hinsdale South coach MikeBarry said. “Morton is a highly, highly talented team this year. We told the guys they were going to have to put their very best effort out here and it showed.”
The Hornets’ defense made its first huge play for a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter. Calvin Jenkins swarmed Morton quarterback Jovan Butts head-on to cause a fumble and Jaylin Steele picked up the ball and rambled 60 yards fora touchdown.
“Absolutely, anytime you can change momentum in a game, it benefits your team,” Barry said.
Morton scored on its opening possession with a 38-yard TD run by Arana on third-and-2. The Hornets answered with a 76-yard, 13-play scoring drive capped by Whittaker’s 11-yard TD run.
“I had a little (halftime) talk and we just came out and we were talking,” Logan said. “Everything that they scored on was miscues on us. We’ve got to keep it together. We tightened up, played together and the energy was justt here.”
The Hornets have won four straight Homecoming games, including over Downers Grove South in March. Carr remembered watching the victory from the stands as a freshman.
Carr was a quarterback for the freshman team before being converted into a two-way lineman.
“We said, ‘Hey dude, you’re a big guy and he said I’ll do whatever you need coach,” Barry said. “Griff’s a stud. I definitely think he’s a college football player just because of his attitude, toughness and his skill. He’s also a wrestler.”
Arana (128 yards) and Butts (36 yards) handled the brunt of Morton’s offense and were among its players to get injured on the field. The Mustangs limited the Hornets to 46 second-half yards until the final drive.
“Our defense did a heck of a job,” Morton coach Bob Organ said. “We did not play well offensively. We didn’t handle it well up front and our offensive line’s been playing great all year. That’s on us as coaches.”