Huntley laments missed chances in 2nd-round loss to St. Ignatius
Huntley coach Mike Naymola had no problems rattling off a list of the Red Raiders' missed chances, from a touchdown wiped off just before halftime to a blocked field goal to a three-and-out right after taking over on St. Ignatius' 29-yard line.
"That was too many mistakes, and ultimately it cost us a little bit," Naymola said.
The Raiders hung with St. Ignatius for three-plus quarters until the Wolfpack iced the game with 4:09 remaining on a 7-yard scoring run for a 35-23 victory Friday at Fornelli Field in their Class 8A second-round playoff game.
No. 24-seeded St. Ignatius (8-3) will play either No. 16 Neuqua Valley (7-3) or No. 1 Loyola (10-0) next week. No. 9 Huntley finished 9-2.
"We came off really hot, we played great first series on offense and defense," wide receiver-safety Zack Garifo said. "Then we came back and got a field goal [on the second drive], but we started shooting ourselves in the foot.
"Second half, we started to play against ourselves. Defense gave up long runs, and offense didn't move the ball. It [stunk] to not be able to do anything."
Just before halftime, Huntley quarterback Braylon Bower dropped a perfect pass just inside the back of the end zone to Jake Witt, who grabbed the ball and tapped his toes inbounds, but it was nullified by a holding call.
The Raiders, trailing 14-10, drove to the Wolfpack's 7 to start the third quarter, but Talon Sargent's 24-yard field goal was blocked.
Huntley linebacker Ben Wean then stripped quarterback Jack Wanzung, and defensive back Zach Ryvasy fell on the ball at the St. Ignatius 29. But the Wolfpack defense got the ball back without allowing a first down.
"That stop was very big," said Wolfpack defensive tackle Justin Scott, a five-star recruit committed to Ohio State. "After we got that stop, the game was wraps. That was a critical stop to get the [win]."
Wolfpack coach Matt Miller was thrilled when his team drove 80 yards to get its first two-score lead right after that.
"We get that stop and get that cushion, felt a little better after that," Miller said. "The guys stuck together. We were not clean, on both sides. We couldn't get off the field on fourth down, had some penalties, embarrassing personal fouls, jumping offside in the red zone.
"We were not sharp, but the guys stuck together and didn't turn on anybody."
During that scoring drive, Huntley felt it should have been off the field near midfield. On third-and-14, Wanzung threw a pass to Toney, who Garifo hit hard in the back for no gain. Garifo was flagged for unnecessary roughness.
"He said I couldn't hit him with my shoulder," Garifo said. "I've made hundreds of tackles with my shoulder. I started celebrating, and he threw the flag on me."
The Wolfpack took full advantage and drove down for Wanzung's 8-yard scored for a 21-10 lead.
"The receiver caught the ball, and Garifo came through and hit him with his shoulder in his back," Naymola said. "And because he didn't wrap him up, they said it was unnecessary roughness. I've never seen someone get hit shoulder to back, no helmet-to-helmet, and call a penalty on it.
"That was a crushing play. We're getting the ball back with some momentum. It was unfortunate. It was also just one play."
Huntley came back and scored on Bower's 29-yard touchdown pass to Omare Segarra to make it 21-17, but the Raiders could not get the necessary defensive stops to catch up.
Scott, who is 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, was used at fullback, where he rushed eight times for 68 yards. He scored on a 29-yard run with 6:02 to go.
The Raiders went for it on fourth down on the next series and were stopped, and St. Ignatius punched in a TD to make it 35-17.
Huntley running back Haiden Janke ran 28 times for 144 yards, and Bower completed 14 of 25 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Witt had eight catches for 108 yards and one score.
"There's so many things we probably could have done better as a team," Janke said. "We played our [butts] off. We thought we were about to beat them. We knew Scott was going to be a big problem, but we ran it like we wanted to."
Naymola looked back to the series after Ryvasy's fumble recovery as crucial.
"They felt like this slipped between their fingers and got away," he said. "That stings a little bit. They got the ball back and gained control of the game. In the playoffs you can't have opportunities slip through your fingers like that."