Hinsdale Central senior Juwan Edmond’s best sport is wrestling, where he is a three-time state medalist.
But on Friday night, the 5-8, 165-pounder was the best running back on the field, outshining Lyons Township High School star Leonard Ross. Edmond rushed 35 times for 180 yards and two touchdowns to lead Hinsdale Central to a 37-23 West Suburban Conference Silver Division victory at Bennett Field in Western Springs.
“My teammates were talking about how I’ve got to show up with Leonard Ross today,” Edmond said. “I think I did.”
The Miami, Ohio-bound Ross wasn’t too shabby either, rushing for 115 yards on 26 carries, but he was unable to break any big runs and failed to find the end zone.
“Ross is a great player,” Hinsdale Central coach Dan Hartman said. “Obviously, he’s going to a Division I school.
“The focus for the defense was to hold him up and hopefully we could do enough to contain Tommy [Fiedler] and the receivers and it worked out well.”
That it did, though not at first. Fiedler completed 9 of his first 10 passes, two of which went for touchdowns. He threw a 12-yard scoring strike to Emmett Corrigan to give the Lions a 7-0 lead in the first quarter and his one-yard toss to Alec Cohen put LTHS on top 14-13 with 5:48 left in the second quarter.
But things started to go wrong for the Lions (3-3, 1-2) after that. Edmond carried eight times on a 10-play, 81-yard drive, which he capped with a five-yard touchdown run to put the Red Devils ahead 20-14 with 1:40 to go in the half.
Ross picked up a first down on the ensuing drive but a bad snap and a personal foul penalty pushed the Lions back to their own 12 and Hinsdale Central called a timeout with 10 seconds left to force a punt.
The Red Devils (4-2, 3-1) tried to block the kick but didn’t have to because the snap went past LTHS punter Nick Newsome and out of the back of the end zone for a safety to extend Hinsdale’s lead to 22-14 at halftime.
“First half [we made] a lot of mistakes,” LTHS coach Kurt Weinberg said. “We were up 7-0 and [set] to get the ball in good field position and we roughed the punter. There were three bad snaps.
“But they deserved the credit. They won the game and they played better than us.
“I was very impressed with how their offense played. We’ve been playing pretty good defensively but tonight their offense really took it to us pretty good.”
Indeed, LTHS was gashed for 429 yards of total offense, including 238 in the second half. In addition to Edmond’s running, 6-7 quarterback Matt Rafferty passed for 233 yards and three touchdowns.
“Our main game plan was to throw the ball first and then run it,” Edmond said. “Obviously the running lanes were opening up so we were able to run and pass at the same time.”
Even so, the Lions rallied as Joe Dillon recovered a fumble and Fiedler hit Corrigan for a 33-yard gain on the next play. That set up Fiedler’s three-yard touchdown run with 2:03 remaining in the third quarter, but Ross was stopped on the two-point conversion run, leaving the Lions trailing 22-20.
Four plays later, Rafferty fired a 54-yard TD pass to Ryan Doney to make it 29-20.
The Lions pulled within 29-23 on a 33-yard field goal by Joe Bruni with 10:26 remaining, then got the ball back and drove to the Hinsdale 8 before the drive stalled. Bruni attempted another 33-yard field goal but this one hit the left upright at the 2:52 mark.
Three plays later, the Red Devils iced it with Rafferty’s 80-yard TD pass to Thomas Ives (six catches, 153 yards).
Fiedler finished 13-for-23 for 162 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He was held to minus-1 yard rushing on 13 carries.
“The defense came up big at times,” Hartman said. “We struggled a little bit more than the last few weeks but they came up and made big plays at big times and we were able to get the win.”