Huskies win thriller over Downers Grove North

Yates scores touchdown in overtime to keep OPRF unbeaten


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By Marty Farmer

Sports Editor

Oak Park and River Forest football head coach John Hoerster always talks about the importance of "program" wins to augment the Huskies' burgeoning reputation as one of the elite teams in the area. The Huskies earned an incredibly hard-fought 16-10 overtime victory against highly regarded Downers Grove North on Friday at a packed Oak Park Stadium. The West Suburban (Silver) Conference win is clearly one of the most significant to date during Hoerster's OPRF coaching stint. Since a 3-6 campaign in his first season, Hoerster has guided the Huskies to 11 wins in 15 games.

In overtime Friday, the Huskies' Xavier Rowe (six tackles) caused a DGN fumble that was recovered by Justin Starks. OPRF quarterback Lloyd Yates (11-for-14, 116 yards) promptly scored on a two-yard touchdown run to provide a spirited exclamation point on the Huskies' signature win.

"The kids played incredibly hard and stayed positive the entire game," Hoerster said. "There was never a moment where they didn't feel like they could win. Downers Grove North is an outstanding football team, so I'm very proud of our players for showing tremendous determination to pull this one out."

The Trojans (2-2, 0-2) forced overtime in dramatic fashion when kicker Gareth Jones nailed a 42-yard field goal as time expired in regulation. The Huskies held a 10-7 lead with 1:11 left in the fourth quarter after Yates connected with Rowe on a 20-yard touchdown pass play. Sebastian Medala kicked the PAT. Medala also scored the game's opening points when he converted a 27-yard field goal attempt at 8:17 of the third quarter to stake OPRF to a 3-0 lead.

The Trojans enjoyed their only lead of the game, at 7-3, as quarterback David Edwards scored on a one-yard plunge with 2:55 left in the fourth quarter.

OPRF senior running back Jamal Baggett rushed eight times for 97 yards. Overall, the Huskies' vaunted ground game turned in another solid effort racking up 212 yards on 30 rushing attempts against a stout Downers Grove North defense. Wide receiver Simmie Cobbs had seven catches for 51 yards and fellow OPRF wideout Kejuan Ratcliff hauled in a pair of receptions for 40 yards.

Defensively, Sam Cottingham-Beard tallied a team-high nine tackles for OPRF, while Justin Starks and Andre Lee recorded eight tackles apiece and Nathan Godwin contributed six tackles. Starks also recovered two fumbles.

OPRF (4-0, 2-0) takes on host York Friday (7:30 p.m.) in another key conference matchup.

 The Huskies have already notched impressive league victories against Proviso West and Downers Grove North. Although it's early in the race, Glenbard West, OPRF and Hinsdale Central appear to be the top contenders for the conference title.

Email: Twitter: @OakParkSports

Reader Comments

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Jerry Hudson from Phoenix  

Posted: September 21st, 2013 3:17 PM

Man, the Huskies are really making it tough on the old geezers watching on line! They showed grit and determination and considerable talent. I assumed that unsportsmanlike came because of some "woofing" after a DG played was taken off the field. If so, let's not have any more of that stuff. Lack of discipline can cost you a game. And that call came perilously close to doing just that. Bert's right: having the crest on the helmets is just outstanding. Keep it up, guys.

Marty Farmer from Oak Park  

Posted: September 21st, 2013 8:45 AM

Oak Park, my mistake on the Downers North lead. The Trojans' touchdown put them ahead 7-3 late in the fourth quarter, then the Huskies scored a touchdown to regain the lead at 10-7 before finally the Trojans tied it at the buzzer with a long field goal. Apologies for the mistake, it's been corrected and thanks for your interest in my story and the Huskies' great start to this season. Marty Farmer sports editor

oak park  

Posted: September 21st, 2013 8:15 AM

Let's go Huskies!!!! Your account of the game doesn't really make sense? How could DGN have the lead at 10-7 and then kick a field goal to force overtime???? Anyway, it's been a long time since OPRF was this good at football. Let's GO OPRF!!!

bert from oak park  

Posted: September 21st, 2013 7:33 AM

what a game. For those there, what exactly was the "unsportsmanship" penalty for that gave Downers North the ball and the momentum after those two punishing tackles? it was called after a player was taken off the field with DGN about to punt at 4th and 16 from their 20. Unclear. I thought the huskies were the better team all night and it would have been unfortunate to lose a game they controlled from a referee's call. Great job Huskies. Love the decals on the helmet.

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