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Desean Brown (with ball) of Naperville North eludes a diving tackle attempt by Kevin Glitz of Wheaton Warrenville South on his way to a touchdown. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Strange things happen at Red Grange Field.
Take Friday night’s DuPage Valley contest between No. 13 Wheaton Warrenville South and Naperville North.
The visiting Huskies seemingly had the game locked away, but the Tigers managed to escape with a 24-21 victory thanks to the heroics of junior quarterback Ryan Graham who threw up a jump ball that teammate Brandon Moore came down with it. Moore then raced into the end zone for the 47-yard winning score as time expired.
“I honestly have no idea how I did that,” said Graham, who completed 15 of 33 passes for 202 yards and the one score. “I saw that there was room to step up and I did and my amazing wide receivers just did the rest.”
The final play was snapped with 4.7 seconds remaining.
Graham’s pass only reached the Naperville 15 where a host of players put their arms up for the ball and it was popped up into the air. The ball came down in Moore’s hands and he secured possession and raced into the end zone sending the Tigers’ sideline into a wild frenzy while the Naperville fans looked on in disbelief.
“I’m still seeing the ball,” Moore said. “It was up in the air for what seemed like forever. It was crazy. I’m not sure what happened.”
The win ensures that the Tigers (2-2, 2-0) won’t start the season at 1-3 for a second straight year while North is 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the DVC.
“That is what happens when you play good teams and give them chances to win,” North coach Sean Drendel said. “Things always happen at Wheaton South.”
The Huskies took a 21-6 lead at halftime thanks to two touchdowns from junior Desean Brown — one through the air and one on the ground. It also helped that Tigers failed to score on three drives that went inside the Naperville North 30.
The Tigers, who failed to convert on any of their first three point after attempts, slowly inched their way back into it and pulled to within 21-18 with 6 minutes, 12 seconds remaining. North drove to the Tigers’ 40 before being turned away on downs. However, Graham threw four straight incomplete passes as the Tigers turned the ball over right back to the Huskies with 2:25 remaining.
North failed to run out the clock and ended up punting. Senior punter Gabe Hanson pinned the Tigers at their 7 with 46.5 seconds remaining and no timeouts.
It took six plays for the Tigers to reach the Naperville 47 with 4.7 seconds left when they had one last chance.
Graham and Moore did the rest.
“Ryan threw the ball up,” Moore said. “I was just trying to make a play. I saw a bunch of hands, the ball was up in the air. I grabbed it and just ran into the end zone. It’s still a blur.”