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Tinley Park’s Kevin Jackson thought he had destroyed his team’s playoff aspirations.
What a difference a few minutes makes.
With Tinley Park trailing 23-21 with four minutes remaining, Jackson pounced on a Westinghouse fumble at the Warriors 23-yard line. Three plays later, Titans quarterback Christian Plumber scored on a 4-yard run, giving Tinley Park a 27-23 victory over Westinghouse in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs Saturday night at Lane Stadium.
“I feel like I’m on top of the world right now,” Jackson said. “It’s amazing.”
Tinley Park (6-4) advances to the second round of the playoffs for the third straight season. The Titans will travel to face Joliet Catholic (6-4).
Westinghouse (7-3) rallied from a 21-0 halftime deficit behind quarterback Dejesus Eugenio (8-of-20, 124 yards). After a Carlos Singleton 57-yard touchdown run cut the Titans’ lead to 21-17, Eugenio found Tobias Cook blowing past Jackson and the Tinley Park secondary for a 47-yard touchdown pass to give Westinghouse a 23-21 fourth-quarter lead.
“I thought I had ruined the whole the season for us,” Jackson said of that Westinghouse touchdown. “I felt like the season was slipping away.”
If the fumble recovery was the biggest play of the night for Tinley Park, Jackson’s 68-yard touchdown return on an interception would be next in line. The junior safety was all over the field, even handled punting duties.
“It wasn’t pretty, but we found a way to win,” Tinley Park coach Nick Johnston said. “Give credit to Westinghouse. They were very well coached, disciplined and a real tough team. They deserve a lot of credit for making adjustments and coming back in the second half.”
Preston Thompson ran 152 yards on 17 carries for the Titans.