ALGONQUIN – Huntley’s defense prides itself on being able to rise to the occasion at critical moments.
And no moment was more critical than defensive back Josh Sepsey’s play against Jacobs on Friday night.
Sepsey saw Jacobs quarterback Bret Mooney fake a handoff on a two-point conversion attempt with 11.4 seconds remaining and knew what was coming. As Mooney ran around the left side, Sepsey was able to drop him and Huntley, which seemed to have matters in hand a few minutes earlier, finally breathed a sigh of relief.
The Red Raiders held off Jacobs’ furious late rally for a 34-33 victory in their Fox Valley Conference Valley Division football game at Jacobs Athletic Field. It was Huntley’s fourth consecutive division victory and keeps the Raiders (4-2 overall, 4-0 FVC Valley) one-half game ahead of Cary-Grove.
“I saw the fake and I jumped right on it and just dove at his legs,” Sepsey said. “We all pulled together when we had to and got the stop.”
Huntley had led 34-20 with 2:07 remaining before the Golden Eagles (3-3, 1-2) came back. Sophomore running back Josh Walker, a 5-foot-3, 130-pound dynamo, ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 1:26 to go, then Eagles receiver Hunter Williams recovered the onside kick.
Walker caught a 37-yard pass from Mooney to the Huntley 1, and Mooney then scored on 2-yard run around the left side to make it 34-33.
“We called timeout because we thought that was a play they were going to run, then we didn’t defend it,” Huntley coach John Hart said. “I would have gone for two there, too, just like [Jacobs coach Bill Mitz] did. When you have a team reeling, you put them away. They had the numbers running that way, it’s still a great football play.”
Huntley’s other huge defensive play came early in the fourth quarter when defensive back Mike Andrews picked off Mooney 7 yards deep in the end zone and returned it all the way to Jacobs’ 18.
“Oh, my God!” Andrews said. “I don’t even know what I was thinking when I was running. I knew if we pressured their quarterback he might throw some up. Defensively, all year, when we needed to, we’ve stopped teams.”
That was the start of a wild fourth quarter. After Huntley scored, Jacobs answered with Walker’s 31-yard touchdown. Huntley then figured it had put away the game with another scoring drive, but the Eagles were not done.
Once they were in that position with 11.4 seconds remaining, Mitz knew what he wanted to do.
“No question about [going for two],” Mitz said. “We thought we could get [Mooney] out there again. It was a great high school football game.”
Walker, who was called up from the sophomore team last week, rushed 12 times for 151 yards.