Downers North controls clock, Red Devils

5 minute read

Bill Stone, Sports Writer | Hinsdale Doings | Published September 28, 2006

After missing the first two games of the football season, Hinsdale Central junior running back Bill Auriemma broke through in a big way Friday at Downers Grove North.

Auriemma, who had one carry against Oak Park Sept. 15, had eight for a team-high 86 rushing yards, including an electrifying 69-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

Unfortunately for the Red Devils, that long run accounted for more than half of their offense in a frustrating 17-7 loss in the annual battle for the Old Oaken Bucket that seriously dims any hopes of a West Suburban Conference Silver Division title.

“They did (play well), but we shot ourselves in the foot again, the second week in a row,” said Hinsdale Central coach Mike DiMatteo, whose team lost to Oak Park 21-7. “What did we have four fumbles, five? We can’t keep doing that. And they got some breaks that they took advantage of.” The Red Devils (3-2, 0-2 in Silver) had just 135 yards of offense and were out-optioned by the Trojans (3-2, 2-1), who ran 59 offensive plays to the Red Devils’ 28 and possessed the ball for 35 minutes, 15 seconds versus the Red Devils’ 12:45.

The Red Devils also lost two of their four fumbles, and a squib kickoff to start the second half deflected off a front-row lineman and was recovered by the Trojans. Downers North scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown on the ensuing drive after converting on fourth-and-6 at the Red Devils’ 14-yard line.

“That’s their offense — three, four, five yards at a crack, and we didn’t stop them when we needed to. And when we did, we gave them the ball right back,” DiMatteo said. “So far, the last two games that’s been the story. At this point, we’re just going to keep on stroking and do what we do. We’re not changing. We’re just going to work harder.

“All of the little things we’re not doing. We do some of the big things, but we’re not doing the little things. When we do, we get a 60-yard touchdown, or we get a stop. We didn’t do that tonight.”

Downers North is in possession of the bucket in back-to-back years for the first time since 1997-98. Hinsdale Central still leads the series 37-33-3.
The Red Devils’ first drive began at the Downers North 37 following Troy Laing’s 29-yard punt return. They fumbled the ball away on their first play.

Downers North struck first on Mike Krygeris’ 35-yard TD run on the first play of the second quarter as he broke free around left end on a fourth-and-1 carry. Auriemma’s touchdown 2:45 before halftime, in which he ran through the left side of the line untouched, seemed to spark the Red Devils. The squib kick, which was recovered at the Red Devils’ 45, changed the momentum for good. After converting a third-and-1 at the 21, the Trojans faced third-and-7 at the 15 and got a 1-yard run by Krygeris.

Following a timeout, quarterback Brendan Briscoe rolled, just eluded linebacker J.T. Sandstedt and ran around the left side for a 9-yard gain to the 5. Briscoe scored on a 2-yard run three plays later for a 14-7 lead.

“That (squib kick) was not a planned thing. I wouldn’t want to give them that kind of field position,” Downers North coach John Wander said. “That was just a little luck. And sometimes you take luck.”

“The opening kickoff of the second half bounces off a guy’s foot. What are you going to do?” DiMatteo said. “Any touchdown in a game like this is a momentum changer, but that (fourth-down play) was a big play we didn’t make.” Briscoe not only rushed for 87 yards on a team-high 28 carries. He also added a 22-yard field goal with 6:37 remaining after recovering a fumble at the Trojans’ 47.

The Trojans rushed 55 times for 242 yards, many times behind left guard Nick Reicher (6-foot-4, 255 pounds), left tackle Dexter McAuley (6-1, 240) and tight end Matt Shanahan (5-9, 165) and even after Red Devils’ standout lineman Jack DiNardo (6-4, 245) was moved to that side. The Trojans, who entered the game with six fumbles (2 lost), had none Friday.

“We always tell our kids we’re a tough team to beat if we don’t make mistakes and turn the ball over. Now we’ve got to get on them on penalties,” said Wander, whose offense had 35 yards in penalties. “(And) our kids hung tough on defense. They had one long run there, and that was a communication problem, which we corrected at halftime.”

The Red Devils, meanwhile, are going back to basics to get back on track.

“We’re blocking people at the wrong times, we’re putting the ball on the ground, we’re stunting pass people instead of keeping our head up, our defensive line is playing a bit high,” DiMatteo said. “These are things we do (work on at practice) every day. It’s not translating right now so we have to do a better job, and that’s on us as coaches.”  
Copyright © 2006, The Doings

RED DEVILS / Downers Grove North NEWS