Sweet jubilation!

Wisdom's TD in final minute lifts OPRF past conference power Hinsdale Central

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By LARRY ROGOWIN

OPRF 10
Hinsdale Central 7

Those who only heard about it probably responded with a "Huh?"

Oak Park and River Forest beat Hinsdale Central?

Hinsdale Central: 2004 State quarterfinalists, West Suburban (Silver) champions four out of the last six years, 3-0 to start this and the last five seasons.

Now 3-1. Senior De'Angelo Wisdom's 2-yard touchdown run and sophomore Sam Frank's extra point with 54.4 seconds remaining in Saturday afternoon's game gave the Huskies a 10-7 lead, which the team preserved by recovering a Hinsdale fumble 23 seconds later.

And suddenly, virtually every corner of hot, sunny Oak Park Stadium erupted in celebration.

"It's a great feeling for our kids. It's a great feeling for our coaches. It's a great feeling for the community, our fans, our student population," said Huskies coach Jim Nudera, high-fiving and hugging virtually all of the above after his team evened its overall record at 2-2 (1-1 conference).

Wisdom's TD capped an eight-play, three-minute-and-16-second drive that began at the OPRF 45-yard-line. The big play: On second-and-7 from the Hinsdale 39, tight end Jon Meacham snared a pass from junior quarterback Justin Brown near the 20 and sprinted toward the right corner of the end zone only to be cut down at the half-yard-line with 1:24 left to play.

Meacham caught seven passes on the game for 129 of OPRF's total 224 yards in the air. With the Red Devils throwing double coverage on the Huskies' No. 1 receiver, senior Jason Simmons, Meacham knew he had to step up. But the 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior directed all praise to his teammates, especially Brown, who earned his first varsity win as a signal-caller in his second start.

"[Brown] played like a senior today," said Meacham. "I'm happy he got me the ball. I knew he could do it."

Brown struggled at times to find his receivers, completing 13 of 33 passes on the day. But he made the right reads in crucial situations. A prime example came when he connected with Meacham and senior Jeremy Potts on 8- and 36-yard passing plays to convert two third downs during a 13-play, 62-yard drive that ended with Frank's 34-yard field goal, giving the Huskies a 3-0 lead with 2:38 remaining in the first half.

Appearing in his first football game of the season, Frank, a former soccer player, was 1-for-2 on field goals.

The course of the game changed dramatically just over two minutes later, when Hinsdale Central's star quarterback, Brett Morse, embarked on a 5-yard TD run and was hit and upended by two OPRF defenders about four yards into the end zone, forcing him to leave the game. No penalty was called on the play.

Reports shortly after the game indicated that Morse, who ran for 100-plus yards and four touchdowns through the Red Devils' three preceding wins, may have sustained a torn ligament just below his elbow and is expected to be out for an extended period of time.

The Red Devils gained just 84 yards on offense in the second half, next to 227 in the first half. The Huskies finished with 362 total yards on offense, forced three Hinsdale fumbles (recovering two) and notched an interception.

The first of these recoveries, courtesy of senior Nick Loiacono, stopped the Red Devils at the OPRF 8 on the opening drive of the game, a 74-yard trek.

The Red Devils reached OPRF territory only once in the second half, getting as far as first-and-10 from the 21 before a holding call and stingy defense pushed them back to third-and-27 from the 38.

Junior defensive lineman Max Brooks picked off a pass at the line of scrimmage from pressured Hinsdale back-up QB Durada Kasey, giving the Huskies possession on the Red Devils' 31 at the 6:12 mark of the fourth quarter.

The offense failed to capitalize, but the defense forced Hinsdale to go three-and-out on the ensuing drive, setting the stage for the go-ahead drive.

The Huskies travel to Morton (0-4, 0-2 West Suburban Gold) Friday night (7:30 kickoff).

Conference standings

CONFER. OVERALL

Lyons 2-0 2-2

Glenbard West 1-0 3-1

Downers Grove North 1-1 3-1

Oak Park 1-1 2-2

York 1-1 2-2

Hinsdale Central 0-1 3-1

Proviso West 0-2 2-2

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