Evanston becomes playoff eligible with win over Niles West
Evanston's Raymond Lackey (1) tries to slow down Niles West's Andrew Milhulet (9) by pulling on his jersey in Evanston, Ill. on Friday, October 19, 2012. | Jon Durr~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 20, 2012 12:44AM
EVANSTON — In a must-win game, the Evanston football team fell behind by 13 points, but came back to beat Niles West 28-21 in Friday’s CSL South showdown.
The Wildkits (5-4 overall, 2-3 conference) became playoff eligible, and will find out on Saturday if they have enough points to make the postseason. Most within the Evanston camp believe the team will qualify.
With seven minutes remaining in the contest, Evanston broke a 21-21 tie when junior receiver Alex Zineddine caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Chris Little.
It was the second time the pair connected for a score. Zineddine’s 54-yard grab from Little early in the third quarter had given the Wildkits a 21-13 lead.
Turnovers were key in Evanston overturning an early 13-0 deficit. Six plays after the home team recovered a first-quarter fumble, Wildkits senior Marcus Hampton scored on a 6-yard run to make it 13-7.
Evanston senior Kameron Simmons-Gill’s interception led to his team’s second score, a 1-yard run by Little, which helped the Wildkits take a 14-13 lead.
“We went down 13-0 right off the bat, and then it was nice to see our kids respond,” Evanston coach Mike Burzawa said. “That’s what football is about: It’s about adversity, overcoming it. That’s what I’m most proud of, getting knocked to our knees and bouncing back.”
Niles West (5-4, 1-4) lost its fourth-straight game, but coach Scott Baum said playoff points should ensure the program’s first postseason appearance since 2004.
“The good news is, we’re in. But we could have helped ourselves with a win,” Baum said. “We’re excited about (the playoffs). We set out to accomplish playing a 10th game, and we’re playing a 10th game.”
The Wolves opened the scoring on their first drive on junior Nick Johnson’s 9-yard touchdown run. Johnson then caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Tommy Galanopoulos.
After falling behind 21-13, the visitors tied the score late in the third when Galanopoulos scored on a 10-yard run and then senior Jake Glotzer ran in the two-point conversion.
Pick up your local Pioneer Press newspaper on Thursday to read more about the Niles West and Evanston football teams.