ELMHURST, Ill. -- Down seven with less than eight minutes remaining, York was at a crossroads.
“It was certainly gut check time for all of us on that side of the ball,” said York senior quarterback Jim Nudera.
Two drives and 14 points later, the top-seeded Dukes narrowly avoided a first-round upset, defeating Lockport 21-14.
“We’ve been working at this since last summer, and tonight was just an example of what a team does under this type of adversity.” said Nudera
The adversity Nudera was referring to was his Dukes' inconsistent first half, which began with a Dan Holman 82-yard touchdown run that put Lockport up early. York would respond, as Nudera guided the Dukes down the field mid second quarter, as the QB capped of the touchdown drive with a 3-yard TD run.
But it was two costly York turnovers that left the game tied 7-7 at half.
“It’s tough to score points when we’re turning the ball over whether it be in the red zone or not…it just kills you’re rhythm offensively,” said Nudera.
Both teams opened up the second half much like the first, with multiple three-and-outs until an unsportsmanlike penalty against the Dukes helped Lockport convert a second-and-14 en route to a go-ahead touchdown via Dexter Taylor’s 8-yard run.
With time running out on the Duke’s season, Nudera and his offense finally began to click, thanks to some tough running from Ryan Kent. Kent's 55-yard run followed by a 5-yard touchdown scamper tied the game at 14 all. After Lockport failed to convert a key third-and-3 with less than four minutes remaining, York promptly regained possession and never looked back. Facing second down from the Lockport 13, Nudera found David Byerley wide open in the back of the end zone for what would be the game winning touchdown.
“In my opinion, he’s one of the best receivers in the state,” said Nudera.
With the win, York advances to face Naperville North in the second round of the 8A playoffs.
Player of the game: Jim Nudera, QB, York. Although inconsistent at times, Nudera came up big when his team needed him the most. The senior directed two clutch 4th quarter drives, highlighted by his 13-yard touchdown pass that iced the game for the Dukes.
Stat of the game: After holding the York offense to just seven points in the first three quarters, the Lockport defense surrendered 14 points in the game’s final eight minutes.
It was over when: Billy Reed and the Lockport offense failed to convert on a fourth-and-6 with less than a minute remaining.
Quote of the night:
“We obviously know we didn’t play our best football tonight and to still come away with the win is a great feeling.” -- York Senior Quarterback Jim Nudera