HARVEY | Practice makes perfect for Thornton's Aaron Zambrano.
Friday evening, Zambrano rushed from soccer practice to football practice, where he is the Wildcats' kicker, jumped the fence on the last play of practice, and kicked a 30-yard field goal to end the Wildcats' two minute offense practice.
Saturday afternoon, Zambrano did it for real.
With the game tied 13-13 and 2.7 seconds left, Zambrano came on the field to hit a 23-yard field goal to lead the Wildcats over SouthWest Suburban Conference Red rival Thornwood 16-13.
"We run the two-minute O (offense) and we put the ball where we need to be and start counting it down," Thornton coach Bill Mosel said of Friday's practice. "We run the PAT team out on the field to kick the game-winner and he jumps the fence, runs on the field and kicks the game winner.
"So he was ready."
Zambrano's second field goal of the day came with 1:08 left and tied the contest 13-13. On the ensuing kickoff, Thornwood's return man was called down at the 2-yard line, and the Wildcats were able to force Thornwood to punt from its end zone.
Thornwood's punt netted only 4 yards, and the Wildcats were given a first down from the 5-yard line with 2.7 seconds remaining.
"I was pretty confident," Zambrano said. "I had to do this for my team. All the credit goes to my team. Homecoming and that I could do it for all the fans that were here, we did a real good job."
Thornton's Jamal Towns had a workhorse day on the ground for the Wildcats.
Celebrating his birthday, Towns rushed for 92 yards and one touchdown on 30 carries. Twin brother and teammate Jason Towns had an interception for the Wildcats (5-2, 4-1).
"I wanted to win because of my birthday," Jamal Towns said. "And I want to go out and party because today is homecoming. We wanted to use the running game because we haven't been doing a lot of that lately.
"We're glad to pick up this win because at 4-1 in our conference we're ahead now."
Thornwood (4-3, 2-3) struggled to move the ball throughout the first half, but was able to break through with two second-half touchdowns.
Tommy Wilson connected with Patrick Bolton for a 30-yard touchdown pass and Wilson later ran the ball in from 1 yard out to give the Thunderbirds a 13-10 fourth-quarter lead. But Thornwood was unable to finish and was dealt a blow to its chances of making the playoffs.
"The kid should have just let it go," Thornwood coach Will Milhouse said of the botched kickoff. "He tried to make a play on it and catch it and he fell down. That's the rule. If your knee's down, that's it. I'm just going to tell them to keep fighting because we have two more."