Phillips tops Simeon, 14-12, on Avante Savage’s last-minute touchdown

CHICAGO — Two of the recent standard-bearing football programs in the Chicago Public League, both Simeon and Phillips have yearly expectations that take them beyond the city limits.

But with both schools sputtering to 2-2 records to start the fall of 2021, something had to give in their annual clash, which many refer to as the CPL’s “Super Bowl.” No trips to Disney World are in the making, but more than a little magic was reserved for Phillips in a thrilling 14-12 come-from-behind win at Gately Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Simeon junior receiver Malik Elzy came into the game with the most individual hype, but Phillips senior wideout Avante Savage stole the show with two touchdowns, including the decisive score on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Tyler Turner with 11 seconds left in the fourth quarter that brought the game to its final score.

“Don’t let the two first games fool you. We got our stuff together. We’re back, Phillips is back,” Savage said after the game.

Savage first tilted the game toward his Wildcats in the final seconds of the first quarter, reeling in a pass from Turner to tie the game, 6-6. A 2-point conversion put Phillips ahead and erased the advantage the Wolverines got early on a 2-yard touchdown run from running back Andre Crews.

Ending the game with six receptions and 63 yards to go with the two scores, Savage turned up the volume in a statement Phillips felt it needed to make against one of the few teams that has had their number lately.

“This is a rivalry, we’ve been losing to (Simeon) the last four years,” Savage said. “It feels good to get the win.”

Teammate Desean Hill continued his standout fall with 161 yards on 23 carries after starting the season for Phillips with 351 yards in his first three contests. The junior running back was particularly effective in the second half while Phillips was trying to salt away what was then a 12-8 advantage for Simeon.

“I gave my all out there for my team,” Hill said. “Kept running, kept pounding, just getting positive yards.”

The Wolverines thought they took control early in the second quarter when Elzy, at safety, showed his ability to catch other quarterback’s passes, jumping all over a slant throw from Turner at the Wildcats’ own 17 and running it back for a pick-6. That ended the day’s scoring until Savage’s game-winning play.

The third quarter and most of the fourth were highlighted by missed opportunities from both sides. An egregious miss occurred for Phillips after the day’s longest reception - a 41-yarder by Savage - put the ball on Simeon’s 1-yard line, but the Wildcats fumbled on the next play and Simeon took over after returning the ball to their own 13.

Simeon had their own bitter drive begin by recovering a fumbled punt return to open up the fourth. Starting on Phillips’ 44, the Wolverines gave the ball up on an interception by Jahon Walker at Phillips’ 29. It was the only interception of the day for Simeon senior QB Korey Flowers, but he had a hard time getting anything going through the air, completing only 6-of-15 passes for 73 yards. Elzy caught two of those passes for 42 yards. Crews powered Simeon’s backfield with 56 yards on 19 carries.

“We did what we could do but we didn’t do enough,” Elzy said. “It’s a team loss, we got to come back, get better and work harder next week.”

Much more reliant on downfield passes than their competition, Phillips got the two scores thrown by Turner but also got two interceptions - the senior signal caller completed 9-of-23 passes for 90 yards.