LINCOLNSHIRE | What’s longer than a two-hour bus ride from Flossmoor to Lincolnshire in Friday traffic?
Try riding a Harley. Or a pair of them. Homewood-Flossmoor did in a 28-21 win over Stevenson.
A pair of long-named players helped the Vikings' ride home feel not so quite long. Sophomore Deante Harley-Hampton returned a kickoff 95 yards for a tie-breaking touchdown with 7:02 left in the fourth quarter — after the hosts had pulled even — and the Vikings escaped with the win.
Harley-Hampton rushed for 49 yards on 12 carries and caught six passes for 33 yards, while his twin brother Devonte Harley-Hampton added 44 rushing yards on 13 carries.
"I love having them running in the backfield," H-F linebacker Robert Anthony said. "They played great."
Anthony had two of Homewood-Flossmoor’s three interceptions against Stevenson quarterback Willie Bourbon — all in the second half — as the Vikings improved to 2-0, while dropping Stevenson to 0-2.
"It took a lot (to win the game)," Anthony said. "We didn’t have a great focus (in practice) like we were supposed to. We had to come out here and make plays. They’re supposedly the preseason No. 1-ranked team, and that was big for us. We needed to win this game."
H-F coach Craig Buzea said it was a great game and he was proud of how his team responded.
"Our kids persevered and we were playing a lot of sophomores as it is," Buzea said. " I think we had five or six skill players out with cramps at the end. Our kids just stepped up.
"Of course, Deante's kickoff return for a touchdown was just huge as far as momentum for us. They had just scored and tied it up and to come back and return the kickoff, really gave us a boost."
Stevenson never led but proved resilient by matching Homewood-Flossmoor after each of its first three touchdowns. Vashon Nutt’s TD runs of 1 and 3 yards accounted for the Vikings’ pair of scores through three quarters. Stevenson got a 6-yard touchdown pass from Bourbon (17-of-26 passing, 218 yards) and Bourbon’s 13-yard touchdown.
Deante Harley-Hampton sped around right end and scored from 7 yards out with 10:35 left in the fourth, capping a 17-play, 78-yard drive and putting the Vikings back on top. But then Michigan State-bound safety/wide receiver Matt Morrissey took over, first intercepting quarterback Isaac Cutrara (15 of 18, 113 yards) and then hooking up with Bourbon on a 73-yard scoring play with 7:16 to go.
But Deante Harley-Hampton took the ensuing kick the distance down the right sideline to put the visitors in front for good.
Isaiah Heard intercepted Bourbon at midfield with 2:27 left, and after Homewood-Flossmoor missed a 32-yard field goal that would have all but sealed the victory, Stevenson had one last chance.
Anthony then picked off Bourbon over the middle, and the Vikings ran out the remaining 55 seconds.
"I never believed in the preseason rankings," said Morrissey, who had four receptions for 132 yards. "We got to take game by game. We’re in a hole right now — 0-2 — but you just got to keep building on the positives, just learn from your mistakes and keep moving on."
"It was a playoff-quality type of football game," Stevenson coach Bill McNamara added. "We just aren’t executing well enough through four quarters of football to win those types of games yet. But hopefully we’ll be there at the end."