By Matt Nestor
The Boylan Titans were close in their IHSA Class 7A playoff game against Wheaton North.
Close to winning. Close to a first down. Close to the sidelines as time wound down.
But a third-down pass to Zack Smith at the Falcons’ 17-yard line came up just short of the first down and the sidelines, as did a fourth-down heave as time expired, which allowed Wheaton North to hold on for the 17-13 upset in the first-round game.
“You’re hoping to get a break,” Boylan coach Dan Appino said. “You’re hoping somebody slips in coverage. It just didn’t happen. We always think we’ve got a chance. We just needed about 25 more seconds.”
What set up the final seconds was a beautifully-executed pass that led to a 25-yard touchdown pass from Falcons quarterback Reece Butler to Richard Finley for the game-winning touchdown.
“I didn’t see it,” Wheaton North coach Jay Wardynski said. “I was talking to the defense on the bench, and I didn’t even see it. I’ll be looking forward to watching it on tape and seeing what they ran, because I don’t even know what play we ran.”
Throughout the game, the Titans allowed little running room for Wheaton North’s running backs. So, with a lot of third-and-longs, the Falcons repeatedly went to an out pattern to their receivers.
On the touchdown, Finley faked the out pattern and went up the field. The defender bit on the fake, the timing of Butler’s throw down the field was perfect, and Finley walked in for the score.
“They were throwing some controlled outs,” Appino said. “That’s a tough throw in the wind. One of the times our corner tried to jump it, and they did an out and up on it. They executed really well.”
Boylan led twice during the back-and-forth game. Steve Thomas scored two rushing touchdowns, including a 4-yard run late in the third quarter to take a 13-10 lead. Thomas had 94 total yard in the game.
“We came out, gave it our all, and never quit,” Boylan quarterback Michael Morman said. “That’s the thing with this team. Every time we got down, we got right back up, and somebody made a play.”
Morman led the Titans with 62 rushing yards and also threw for 163 yards. Butler threw for 129 yards.
But the star of the day was the Falcons’ defense for their last-second stand. Butler said if it wasn’t for the defense, which caused three timely turnovers, his team wouldn’t have stood a chance for the upset.
“You can’t say how big it was,” Butler said. “They made big stops the whole game, and then got the biggest stop in the last seconds of the game.”
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From the November 4-10, 2009 issue