||More Sports||Sign up||School Finder|
After watching his team’s defense keep Prospect out of the end zone on two consecutive second-half possessions to keep the Falcons within a point, Wheaton North quarterback John Peltz figured it was time to do his part.
Peltz completed six of seven passes during a 13-play, 84-yard drive midway through the fourth quarter to rally fifth-seeded Wheaton North (10-1) to a 14-7 victory over No. 13 Prospect in an IHSA Class 7A second-round game Friday in Mt. Prospect.
Peltz (17-of-24, 180 yards) completed a 19-yard pass on third-and-13 from his own 13 to spark the winning drive. But he took little credit for the victory.
“The defense won the game for us tonight,” he said. “They came up with huge stops. Seven points, that’s pretty good right there. They won us the game. Luke Sahly leading them on defense. They played a heckuva game.”
Wheaton North scored on its first possession, driving 65 yards on 12 plays in 5:01 and overcoming two holding penalties to take a 6-0 lead on a one-yard run by Dom Garza. Peltz was 5-of-6 for 43 yards on the drive. However, the extra-point attempt was wide left.
That was the bulk of the Falcons’ offense in the first half. Wheaton North punted on its next two possessions and came up a half-foot short on a fourth-and-4 end run by Clayton Thorson at the Prospect 34-yard line with 3:49 left in the second quarter.
“I liked how we came out,” Peltz said. “We came out fast. We came out and drove it right there. But the rest of the game they shut us down. We knew Prospect was pretty flippin’ good. We knew this was going to be a close game. We knew we had to come out and play hard.”
Trailing 6-0 with 3:49 remaining in the first half, Prospect turned to 5-foot-8, 149-pound senior running back Stevan Isteefanos, who carried five times for 45 yards including a 26-yard touchdown run on second-and-13 as the Knights drove 69 yards in 1:42 to grab a 7-6 lead.
The drive was aided by a 29-yard completion from Devin O’Hara (17-of-27, 193 yards, one touchdown, one interception) to Nikko Gountanis on first-and-15 from the Knights’ 37-yard line.
But the Knights came up empty on first-and-10 at the Wheaton North 14 early in the third quarter and on first-and-10 from the Falcons’ 25 early in the fourth.
“The defense played awesome,” Prospect coach Mike Sebestyen said. “I just wish we could have done more offensively. But give Wheaton North credit. They play fast to the ball and took a lot of stuff running-wise away from us.
“Devin did a nice job throwing the football, the receivers made some really big catches, but obviously losing one of our better receivers early in the game (Andrew Hajek, knee) hurt, and Devin took the same shot he took first game of the playoffs but gutted himself through it.”
Hajek and O’Hara weren’t the only players injured during the game. Wheaton North likely lost Thorson for the rest of the playoffs after he injured his collarbone completing a 32-yard catch on the second play of the second half.
“I didn’t see it,” Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski said. “I never watch the offense. I’m always talking to the defense. He hadn’t been playing a whole lot at quarterback because he had a bum shoulder from the Wheaton South game.”
Sahly, Kellen Cleveland and the rest of the Wheaton North defense sacked O’Hara six times for minus-43 yards.
“We geared up this week to stop the run and they ended up throwing the ball more than we expected them to,” Wardynski said. “Their offensive line is very good. They do some good things up front. We had to bring bunch of extra guys to slow them down.”