Football: Lincoln-Way Central goes late to turn back Sandburg 14-7
By Tony Baranek email@example.com August 30, 2014 12:46AM
Lincoln-Way Central's Connor Campbell scrambles out of the pocket against Sandburg at Carl Sandburg High School, Friday, August 29th, 2014, in Orland Park. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 31, 2014 2:14AM
Lincoln-Way Central running back Sean Studer, by his own estimation, is not a night owl.
“Not much. This is pretty late,” he said after the Knights beat Sandburg 14-7 Friday night in the season opener for both. “This is past my bedtime. Usually I get to bed (earlier) after a good game and get to practice.”
Yet there he was, the clock very near midnight, plowing forward for an 8-yard gain that gained the Knights a first down and locked up the win.
“It was a pretty rough day,” Studer said with a weary smile.
He earned a good sleep to be sure, rushing 32 times for 118 yards and both touchdowns for Central, which a year ago beat Sandburg in a game that was pushed from Friday to Saturday because of a rain and lightning storm.
Friday’s game was delayed nearly two hours by lightning.
“Last year ... that (stunk),” Studer said. “We were hoping in (the locker room) that it wouldn’t go to Saturday. We were stretching, staying all pumped up. When we came back out I was just pumped up and ready to go. And we hit them hard.”
The game remained scoreless until Studer found the end zone for the Knights on a 4-yard run with 4:47 remaining in the second period.
The 5-foot-9, 180-pound running back had produced the majority of the yards on the 58-yard drive, although the biggest play was a 23-yard pass completion from Connor Campbell to Joe Nealon. Nealon added the extra point to set the halftime score at 7-0.
The game began more than a half-hour later than the scheduled 7:15 start after a long sophomore game. Just 12 plays in, the last of which a nine-yard pass from Campbell to Mark Bechtold, a lightning strike was observed by officials. It would be the start of a series of strikes that resulted in the restart of the 30-minute lightning delay clock three different times.
The last came at 9:05 p.m. Fans were allowed to return to the grandstands at 9:35 p.m., and the players took a warmup period.
Although it took Central a while to score, Sandburg struggled to move the ball at all, first with starting quarterback Zak Zavod and then Avery Verble. The Eagles produced just two first downs and were outgained 128-10 by Central in the first half.
Central didn’t waste any time adding to its lead in the second half, stopping Sandburg deep in its own territory on the first possession, and taking over at the Eagles 27.
It took just four plays before Studer blasted up the middle and cut right for 19 yards and a score. Nealon’s PAT made it 14-0.
Sandburg’s best drive of the night was orchestrated by Verble, who took the Eagles 65 yards in 11 plays. On a fourth down from the Central 34, he found Adam Valiga with a pass over the middle that ended with him being pushed out of bounds at the 1. From there, Verble got in via a sneak and Jonathan Milazzo added the PAT.
Sandburg managed just one more first down the rest of the way.
“It’s frustrating because I think we’re better than how we completely played,” Sandburg coach Dave Wierzal said. “It certainly wasn’t what we expected.
“We knew going into the season we had a lot of inexperienced guys on the field. We thought we were ready and had a good week of practice. We thought we were better prepared than we showed ourselves (Friday).”