Wild plays lead Glenbard South to triumph

Senior Talha Ayman achieved probably the shortest punt return for a touchdown in Glenbard South football history Friday - 17 yards - on a ball he wasn't supposed to catch.

"I saw it coming towards me. I knew I had to get it," Ayman said. "I heard people screaming at me. I just ran. I looked up and I was in the blue. I was in the end zone."

That was just one of the wild plays in the Raiders' 49-27 victory over Ridgewood in their Metro Suburban Conference crossover in Glen Ellyn and one crucial to the victory surprisingly came on defense.

Through it all, Ayman and junior Adam Haushahn in his season debut played both ways and never relented for Glenbard South (2-2).

The previously injured Haushahn rushed for 116 yards and 3 touchdowns and returned at inside linebacker. Ayman played nose guard, rushed for 46 yards, blocked another punt and returned a squib kickoff 74 yards for a touchdown and a 28-13 advantage in the third quarter.

Ridgewood had 286 passing yards with 3 touchdowns from quarterback Richie Zacharias and added a 74-yard kickoff return midway through the fourth quarter.

"(The game) was traumatic and dramatic. There wasn't a rhythm to it," Glenbard South coach Ryan Crissey said. "We had some great special teams plays and others where you're just shaking your head."

The craziest came with the Raiders leading 7-6 in the second quarter. The Rebels (2-2) tried a fourth-down quick kick with Zacharias rolling to his right from a shotgun formation and punting with his body slightly sideways.

The ball went straight up. Ayman grabbed the spinning ball and battled to barely reach the end zone.

"I was screaming, 'Fire, fire, get away (from the ball),' " Crissey said with a smile. "And then (after the TD) I look at him and said, 'Awesome. Don't do it again.' "

On the next series Ayman blocked another Zacharias quick-kick attempt, putting the ball on the 5. Haushahn scored on the next play for 21-6 halftime advantage.

"That's kind of the way we've been punting. We've been pretty successful at it so far this year," Ridgewood coach Don Gelsomino said. "Even the first one, if (Ayman), who had a great game, doesn't catch the ball, they have the ball at the 30 so we would have been OK. He just made a play."

The Rebels still only trailed 28-20 entering the fourth quarter. Then senior strong safety Justin Goetz intercepted Zacharias on third-and-5 and returned the ball 19 yards for a touchdown and a 35-20 lead with 11:09 left.

Before the pick-6, Zacharias was 10-of-10 passing in the second half for 88 yards.

"I have to credit the D-line. (They) got to the quarterback really well, forced him to make sort of a bold pass," Goetz said. "It was a momentum swing for sure, but the game wasn't over."

Haushahn followed with an 18-yard TD run after scoring first for the Raiders from the 6.

For now the plan is for the 6-foot, 190-pound Haushahn and Ayman to lead the ground attack as they await the return of injured all-state running back Sean Cooke. Also going two ways Friday were receiver/defensive backs T.J. Springfloat and Rod Rivera, who caught a 9-yard TD pass from quarterback Jack Crouch.

Crissey said he hopes Cooke can return for the Wheaton Academy game Week 6.

"(Haushahn) and Talha are really our true two-way guys," Crissey said. "(Haushahn) was gassed. It was great to have him back. He wanted to take a break and I said, 'No. I'm sorry. You can't do that.' "

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