Football: Evergreen Park hangs on for 21-13 win over Eisenhower
By Logan Malloy For Sun-Times Media October 11, 2013 11:40PM
Evergreen Park's Jacquet McClendon (21) celebrates after a touchdown in the first quarter in Evergreen Park, Friday, October 11, 2013. | Jim Boyce/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 14, 2013 6:28AM
Evergreen Park has a flair for the dramatic.
After winning its last three games by a combined four points, the unbeaten Mustangs looked like they would cruise to victory over visiting Eisenhower with a 21-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
But the final frame wasn’t without theatrics.
Eisenhower rallied with scores from T.J. Skelton and Michael Morrison to make it a one possession contest before Evergreen Park standout Jaquet McClendon grabbed the game-clinching interception with less than a minute to go as the Mustangs hung on for a 21-13 victory to remain atop the South Suburban Red standings.
“First and foremost, we need to learn how to finish games before we head into the playoffs,” McClendon said. “But we never give up, and that’s a great tribute to our team.”
It was a monster performance for McClendon on both sides of the ball.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior hauled in a pair of first-quarter touchdown passes from quarterback Sean Ryan, the second a spectacular 47-yard over-the-shoulder grab for a 14-0 advantage.
“I tripped over the defensive back and had to find the ball for it,” McClendon said. “Great ball by my quarterback.”
McClendon finished with five catches for 121 yards. His first score came on a 49-yard pass from Ryan, who finished with 215 yards in the air.
“(McClendon) is a special player,” Evergreen Park coach Dan Hartman. “You don’t get many guys like that running around.”
Ryan started for injured quarterback Jonathon O’Brien for the second consecutive game and looked sharp in the pocket despite being intercepted three times.
Ryan found Eric Gurrister five times for 82 yards. Keyshawn Carpenter added 119 yards on the ground for the Mustangs (7-0, 4-0).
Eisenhower (4-3, 2-2) struggled with its offense in the first half but managed to get things going behind an opportunistic defense that opened things up for Skelton and big-play receiver Morrison.
Skelton rushed for 88 yards on 17 carries. Morrison had four grabs for 104 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown to make it 21-13.
“They stay together and play together, and that’s what I’m most proud of,” Eisenhower coach Travis Moore said. “A play here and a play there and it’s a different ball game, but they’re undefeated for a reason.”
A major reason for the Mustangs’ unblemished record is their stout defensive front. Led by James Jackson, Tremane Holt, Brian Pall and linebacker Brent Bogusz, the Mustangs had 11 tackles for loss.
“It’s hard work and dedication week to week,” Jackson said. “We talked about keeping their backs from hitting the outside. Contain.”