Not many teams have been able to pressure and rattle Homewood-Flossmoor’s star quarterback this fall, as Tim Williams has helped the Vikings pile up big numbers.
But in Friday night’s Class 8A state quarterfinal matchup in Naperville, the host Redhawks (9-3) hit, chased and pressured Williams into three interceptions and a pair of fumbles as Naperville Central blasted 42-14 to advance to next weekend’s state semifinals.
The Redhawks’ Nick Thomas started things off by taking the opening kickoff 76 yards for a quick 7-0 lead. H-F (8-4) did counter with a long drive capped by Williams’ 1-yard run to draw even, but the Redhawks defense took over from there, forcing a trio of first-half turnovers, each of which led to a touchdown and a surprising 35-7 Redhawks lead at the half.
“We knew they were a passing offense and that it would be a challenge for us,” said Redhawks linebacker John Dulleck, who recovered a fumble deep in Vikings territory to set up one score and then added an interception and a return to the 1-yard line that led to another score. “Our game plan was to hit him (Williams) and hit him hard and remind him that it’s basketball season.”
Williams, who also excels on the basketball court, finished the night 16-for-27 passing for 243 yards, but he was picked off three times and had just 44 yards passing in the first half.
Homewood-Flossmoor coach Craig Buzea came up short in his effort to knock off a Naperville school in the quarterfinals for a second straight season, yet he was very supportive of his 2011 Vikings.
“I refuse to let this game define us,” said Buzea, who last year made the trek up from Flossmoor and knocked off Naperville North to reach the final four. “We didn’t play real well and we put the ball on the ground, but Naperville Central did a great job. I think they will represent us real well next week.”
While the Redhawks’ defense was slowing H-F’s attack, Naperville Central was quick to capitalize on its chances. With Jimmy Nashert picking off Williams twice and Dulleck also making sure his team had great field position, Redhawks quarterback Ian Lewandowski finished the night with 94 yards and three short TD runs.
Central’s star running back, Matt Randolph, meanwhile, had 67 yards and a 10-yard scoring run in the first half before sitting out the second half with a minor injury with his team way ahead. Lewandowski also threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Blake Butler in his team’s big win.
The Redhawks will play the winner of Saturday’s Downers Grove South-Bolingbrook contest for a chance to reach the state championship game.