Web Extra!

Hinsdale Central   46
OPRF   45

The OPRF football team battled sixth-ranked Hinsdale Central for four quarters and then some before a controversial call by the game’s referees at the end of double overtime handed the Huskies a 46-45 Homecoming loss at Oak Park Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

After Hinsdale Central running back Jake Knowles had scored on third down during the second overtime to put his team within 45-44, the Red Devils elected to go for the win with a 2-point conversion. Quarterback John Whitelaw kept the ball and burrowed up the middle. The 6-foot-2-inch, 185-pound Whitelaw looked stopped by OPRF’s defense, but the ball was either jarred loose or Whitelaw tossed it forward, where it was recovered by a teammate in the end zone.

No call of a touchdown was made initially, but after the referees conferred for a little over two minutes, it was concluded that Whitelaw had legally fumbled the ball and therefore a touchdown was declared, ending the game in controversy.

“It was an illegal forward pass if anything,” said a fuming Jim Nudera, OPRF’s head coach, after engaging in a lengthy discussion with the referees in the south end zone after the game. “To have them end this game in that way is just ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.”

The Huskies (2-4, 1-3), who held a 21-17 lead at halftime, had to battle back in the second half when Hinsdale Central scored twice.

Down 31-23 with 3:30 left in the game, OPRF quarterback Jack Rogalla hit Zach Draus for a 35-yard touchdown reception. Rogalla found Gabe Woullard all alone on a play-action pass for the 2-point conversion, tying the game up at 31-31 with a little over a minute left in regulation.

The crowd, which had dwindled due to a cold, drizzling rain during much of the second half, erupted.

During the first overtime, where both teams have the ball placed on their opponent’s 10-yard line with first down, Hinsdale Central (4-2, 2-1) had the opening possession. Whitelaw scampered into the end zone on the first play. But the Huskies responded by scoring on their possession. Rogalla hit Darnell Lee with a soft pass in the right corner of the end zone, notching the game at 38-38.

The Huskies were awarded first possession of the second overtime. On fourth and goal, running back Tony Stapleton smashed his way in from a yard out. Nicolas Poilevey’s extra-point split the uprights, giving the Huskies the edge at 45-38.

OPRF linebacker Conor Harmon sacked Whitelaw on the first play of Hinsdale Central’s double overtime possession, before Knowles eventually marched in from a yard out.

Read more about this game in the Oct. 7 Wednesday Journal edition.

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...