ST. CHARLES – St. Charles North graduates went home happy from Friday night’s homecoming game as the North Stars downed Larkin in a must-win game, 33-24.
The victory not only added to the weekend’s festivities but also kept the North Stars’ playoff hopes alive.
The Royals (2-6, 1-4 Upstate Eight Conference River) did not make it easy for North.
Energized by the return of Kemmerin Blalark, their starting quarterback, the Royals kept it close during the first half by exchanging leads with the North Stars.
North (4-4, 4-2 UEC River) finally pulled away in the second half. Coach Mark Gould, hoping for one more playoff trip in his final season, felt at times his team hurt its own chances.
“In spurts, we played well,” Gould said. “And then at times we played like we wanted to give the game away.”
North can become playoff-eligible if its beats UEC crossover foe South Elgin in next week’s regular-season finale in St. Charles.
Erik Miller replaced Ryan Fishbach at quarterback because of a “school-related issue,” Gould said.
The North Stars got on the scoreboard first on a 5-yard run by Evan Kurtz four minutes into the first quarter. Kat Stutesman’s kick failed.
North’s lead was short-lived. The Royals tied the game, 6-6, on their next possession. Damon Clemons capped a five-play drive with a 63-yard run.
After a failed Larkin point after, the Royals successfully recovered the ball on an onside kick. Larkin threatened to score again but was thwarted when Nick McCullough intercepted a Blalark pass on the North Stars’ 1-yard line.
Blalark connected with Dante Bonds on a 35-yard pass to score Larkin’s second touchdown of the night with 7:25 minutes left in the second half as the Royals went ahead, 12-6.
The Royals’ lead lasted all of 12 seconds. North scored on the first play from scrimmage on its next drive. George Edlund ran 51 yards for the score.
Kurtz tallied his second touchdown of the night with 2 minutes left in the half on a 14-yard run. Stutesman connected on the point after to give the North Stars a 19-12 lead.
North extended its lead to 27-12 on its first series in the second half. Zach Kirby, on his first reception of the night, went 18 yards for the TD. Edlund made the two-point conversion.
A Nicholas Lynch interception set up the North Stars’ fifth TD halfway through the fourth quarter. Lynch returned the ball to Larkin’s 30-yard line. Kurtz ended the drive with a 9-yard run into the end zone.
Clemons kept the Royals within two touchdowns by scoring on Larkin’s next possession. The junior scampered another 63 yards for the score. The two-point conversion failed.
Larkin narrowed the gap to nine points, 33-24, with 3 minutes left in the game. A North Stars blocked punt gave the Royals the ball at North’s 30-yard line. Maurece Herrion-Jackson capped the drive with a 1-yard run. The Royals failed on the two-point conversion.
ST. CHARLES NORTH 33, LARKIN 24 LARKIN 6 6 0 12 ST. CHARLES NORTH 6 13 8 6
HOW THEY SCORED
First Quarter STCN – Kurtz 5 yard run (Stutesman kick failed) 8:35 L – Clemons 63 yard run (Delrosario kick failed) 5:46Second Quarter L – Bonds 35 yard pass from Blalark (Delrosario kick failed) 7:25 STCN – Edlund 51 yard run (Stutesman kick failed) 7:13 STCN – Kurtz 14 yard run (Stutesman kick good) 2:12Third Quarter STCN – Kirby 18 yard pass from Miller (Edlund two point conversion) 8:03Fourth Quarter STCN – Kurtz 9 yard run Stutesman kick failed) 6:15 L – Clemons 63 yard run (two point conversion failed) 5:08 L – Herrion-Jackson 1 yard run (two point conversion failed) 3:07
RUSHING – LARKIN: Blalark 10-25, Herrion-Jackson 9-24, Randazzo 5-7, Clemons 11-206, Plate 4-24 Totals:39-286. ST. CHARLES NORTH: Miller 1-2, Edlund 14-197, Kurtz 12-112, Kirby 1-10, Total 28-321. PASSING – LARKIN, Blalark 6-17-97-1 ST. CHARLES NORTH: 6-11-75-1RECEIVING – LARKIN: Bonds 4-72, Shipp 2-25 Totals: 6-97 . ST. CHARLES NORTH: Kirby 2-22, Johnson 3-43, Kaplan 1-10, Total 6-75TOTAL OFFENSE – LARKIN 383, ST. CHARLES NORTH 396SOPHOMORE GAME – ST. CHARLES NORTH 49, LARKIN 0