The way Friday night’s North Suburban Conference divisional crossover game went, it looked like host Vernon Hills and Warren both had full moon fever.
Things started off competitively enough with the teams playing to a scoreless first quarter.
But then the visiting Blue Devils (3-3) took command as they scored 27 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a commanding 27-0 lead into halftime.
Things got even worse for the Cougars (1-5) as Warren scored again early in the third quarter to take a 34-0 lead before many reserve players started to enter the game for Warren.
Before all was said and done, Vernon Hills put a real scare in the Blue Devils as the Cougars scored 26 straight points in the fourth quarter to cut the gap to 34-26 with 2:55 to play.
But a third successful onside kick in a row by Vernon Hills was not meant to be and Warren senior Davonte Wilcox scored his fifth touchdown of the game with 1:44 to play to seal a 40-26 Blue Devils victory in one of the wildest games you’d ever hope to see.
A 4-yard TD run by Wilcox (46 yards on 11 carries) made the score 7-0 35 seconds into the second quarter.
Then Warren quarterback Adam Reuss (10-for-16, 304 yards passing) hit Wilcox with a quick swing pass and Wilcox went 55 yards for the TD and a 14-0 lead with 7:16 left in the first half.
A 42-yard pass from Reuss to Matt Matheny keyed the Blue Devils’ next 81-yard scoring drive before Wilcox caught a 6-yard TD pass from Reuss for a 21-0 advantage 3:27 before the intermission. Warren’s Troy Dombrowski booted 3 extra points in the second quarter.
Then Reuss lofted a perfect 16-yard TD pass to Javon Charleston in the right corner of the end zone with just 34 seconds left in the period to boost the lead to 27-0.
In the third quarter, Reuss faked to his right and threw a pass back to the left where Wilcox caught the ball and ran it in for a 7-yard TD and a 34-0 lead after Matt Massong’s extra point with 8:41 left in the period.
The Cougars’ comeback started with a 6-yard keeper by quarterback Brett Peterson and an extra point by Jeremy Cohen with 11:29 to play.
Then after a four-and-out, Vernon Hills marched 94 yards on 13 plays as a last-second pitch from Peterson to running back Mason Geick (59 yards on 15 rushes) resulted in a 4-yard TD run to cut the gap to 34-13 with only 4:40 to go.
Then came a crucial play as the Cougars recovered the ensuing onside kick even though it appeared that the Vernon Hills player may have been out of bounds when he recovered the ball.
One play later, Peterson (13-for-21, 240 yards passing) hit Sam Maloof down the middle with a 36-yard scoring strike before Cohen booted the extra point to pull to within 34-20.
Cohen was the man of the hour moments later as he miraculously recovered his own onside kick to give the Cougars the ball again.
And the offensive magic continued as a 1-yard keeper by Peterson capped a short and quick 40-yard scoring drive to make the score 34-26 with 2:55 left.
The next onside kick attempt failed, and Warren finally got it’s first team back on the field.
“We realized they were coming back and we had to put the one’s in,” said Wilcox, who did not play last week due to injury. “I give all the credit to the receivers and the offensive line and I would be nothing without them.”
The same quick swing pass from Reuss to Wilcox that worked earlier sealed the win as Wilcox went 66 yards for the TD and a 40-26 lead with 1:44 to play.
“Vernon Hills did a good job executing on the onside kick and we have to improve our hands team,” said Warren coach Dave Mohapp, who recorded his 100th career win. “We’re really striving for consistency, and we started slow but then we found some rhythm. They (Reuss and Wilcox) are both seniors and we’re fortunate to have a weapon like Davonte.”
Vernon Hills will miss the IHSA playoffs two years in a row for the first time in school history, but it was a great effort by the Cougars against a much larger program.
“We threw everything we had at them and we’re just trying to compete and have some fun along the way,” said Vernon Hills coach Tony Monken. “The kids never quit and you’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They never hung their heads.”
Peterson ran for 80 yards on 20 carries while teammates T.J. Flis and Michael Mariella came up with some huge catches during the comeback. Warren’s Maxwell Sorby had 65 yards rushing on 10 attempts.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.