FLOSSMOOR | Homewood-Flossmoor coach Craig Buzea wasn't about to play the blame game after the Vikings' tough, season-ending loss to Naperville Central.
The Redhawks held on for a 24-21 victory over Homewood-Flossmoor on Friday night. The Vikings were hit with two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties late in the fourth quarter, which helped to put the game away for Naperville Central.
"We're not going to sit here and blame the officials," Buzea said. "They just basically made one more play than we did."
The first of the two calls came with 2:53 remaining, and Naperville Central facing a 3rd and 12. The Vikings, who had been issued a sideline warning in the first quarter, were seemingly called for another sideline violation which gave the Redhawks a first down. Buzea also felt the Vikings' defense may have been calling signals. Naperville Central was able to all but run out the clock, with the Vikings getting the ball back on their own five with ten seconds remaining.
"I'm proud of our kids," Buzea said. "We fought back. They have a good team. They're as good as we thought they were. It was a pretty even game."
After the game, Buzea was more concerned with the stop the Vikings didn't make. After taking a 21-17 lead with 6:31 to play, Naperville Central's Ben Andreas took the Redhawks first offensive play 80 yards for the go-ahead — and ultimately game-winning — touchdown.
"We had six minutes to go and they had 80 yards to go and they break one play for 80 yards," Buzea said. "I give them credit. If we want to win the game, we've just got to make one stop."
With the game tied at seven at halftime, the Vikings' pass game came to life in the second half. James Sheehan caught seven passes for 107 yards and one touchdown and was able to get the Vikings the big play when they needed it. Homewood-Flossmoor quarterback Isaac Cutrara finished the game 19 of 26 for 203 yards and two touchdowns.
"We thought we were going to be able to run the ball, but we weren't able to," Buzea said. "They were controlling the line of scrimmage, so we said stop banging our head against the wall and start throwing it."