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With Gavin Dooley to Trevor Hudak TD, Minooka pulls out OT thriller over Yorkville to keep playoff hopes alive

MINOOKA — Each Thursday at practice, Minooka coach Matt Harding spends time working on overtime scenarios with his players. It’s not that the Indians play a lot of overtime games. It’s just that Harding wants his team ready just in case.

Just in case happened Friday night. And the Indians showed they were prepared.

On what ended up being the game’s final play, Gavin Dooley tossed a 10-yard scoring strike to Trevor Hudak, who made a one-handed catch while keeping his feet in bounds to pull out a thrilling 20-17 overtime victory over Yorkville in a Southwest Prairie West game.

“Our kids were accustomed to overtime because of the practice procedures we do,” Harding said. “There’s a reason why we practice those small things. Our kids were ready to go.”

The win kept playoff hopes alive for the Indians (4-4, 2-2), while leaving Yorkville (4-4, 2-2) one victory shy of becoming playoff eligible.

The Foxes got their chance for heroics first in overtime. Hudson Fiere kicked a 22-yard field goal on the opening possession of overtime to give the Foxes their only lead of the night. Their elation was short-lived, however.

After stopping the Indians on their first two plays, Yorkville had no defense for the near-perfect throw and catch between Dooley and Hudak.

“I saw one-on-one coverage and I knew I had to trust my quarterback, No. 11 (Dooley) to throw it up to me,” Hudak said. “And I went up there and made a big play. I feel that’s what I have to do for this team.”

Hudak understands his role, which is to provide a secondary target for Dooley or Ethan Murphy when defenses are keying on the Indian’s top receiver — Northern Illinois recruit Malik Armstrong.

True to form, Armstrong made his impact known with two scoring plays in the first half, a one-yard run and a 19-yard, fourth-down catch as Minooka took a 14-7 lead at the break. It was Hudak’s first catch of the night that set up Armstrong’s rushing touchdown.

Hudak caught a short pass from Murphy and turned a first-down catch into a 52-yard gain that ended just shy of the end zone.

“We all know Malik is a dog — he makes big plays,” Hudak said. “They keep an eye on him, but they forget about me.”

Trailing 7-0, the Foxes tied it on the first play of the second quarter. Gio Zeman ran in from the 12 for the Foxes’ lone score of the half. The drive was set up by a Blake Kersting interception at the Minooka 39.

The Foxes later tied it with 5:21 left in regulation when Nathan Kraus found John Swarn for a 21-yard score. It came two plays after a holding penalty negated an 18-yard scamper into the end zone by Kraus.

“We really needed to win that game — it’s a heartbreaker that we didn’t,” Kraus said. “We played good, did a lot of good stuff. We just can’t get down on each other.”

Minooka had a chance to win the game in regulation, but a 35-yard field goal attempt by Hudak was blocked as time expired. But that was OK. Hudak and the Indians were ready for whatever overtime would bring.