By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
After rolling past the Rockton Hononegah Indians 41-7 during the regular season, if the Machesney Park Harlem Huskies were not surprised to be down 7-0 early, it was certainly a surprise when they were down 14-7 in their playoff matchup Saturday, Oct. 29. Or even when they only led by 4 points at the half.
But as they have done to almost every opponent this year, Harlem wore the opposition down with their explosive offense, getting 217 yards and four touchdown passes from Cody DiGiovanni as the Huskies held on to win a 41-31 shootout over Hononegah.
“We haven’t played in a close one like this, so it was nice to have it,” Harlem Head Coach Jim Morrow said.
It wasn’t nice early for Harlem when Blake Dieterman took the fifth play from scrimmage 43 yards for a touchdown. But Harlem responded on their fifth play when Brenton Benedict went 28 yards for a score.
With the score tied at 7, Dieterman struck again, this time from 42 yards out to regain the lead for Hononegah. It was the last lead the Indians would hold.
DiGiovanni responded with a 65-yard touchdown to Jordan Baxter and a 35-yard strike to Brandon Stout, giving the Huskies three touchdowns in 10 plays to start the game.
In the middle quarters, the defenses took over, with the Indians’ defense keeping it in the game. Key turnovers by the Indians gave Harlem great field position, but the offense stalled, and Hononegah was able to hold the Huskies to two Gustavo Rocha field goals.
“The play calling changed a little bit,” Morrow said. “Our biggest problem was an inability to finish in the red zone. That went from the second to the third quarter, and it made the game different offensively.”
But DiGiovanni struck again, finding Baxter and Stout again from 33 and 30 yards, respectively. Dieterman added a late score for his third touchdown of the game.
Harlem will go on the road Saturday, Nov. 5, to face Elk Grove Village at 1 p.m. The Huskies hosted Elk Grove two years ago and lost 28-21.
“We have a great quarterback and great line to hold for him,” Stout said. “I heard they’re a tough team, but we’re going to do our thing like we usually do.”
From the Nov. 2-8, 2011, issue